- The Times of UK
Andy Burnham, the new Health Secretary, yesterday urged health service managers to press ahead with the controversial fluoridation of water supplies.
Speaking at the NHS Confederation annual conference, Mr Burnham, an enthusiast for fluoridation, said: “I feel we’ve been too timid at times on the public health agenda. So let’s press ahead with water fluoridation, given the clear evidence that it can improve children’s dental health.”
Mr Burnham stepped down yesterday as honorary vice-president of the British Fluoridation Society after inquiries by The Times. He cited his desire not to carry a perceived conflict of interests into the fluoridation debate.
Putting fluoride in water supplies, to protect teeth from decay by toughening their surface, remains a divisive issue. Opponents question the ethics of “mass medicating” the population and the efficacy of such a measure.
Fluoride is added to water drunk by 5.5 million people in England — a ninth of its population — mainly in Birmingham, the West Midlands and parts of the North East. Another 500,000 people have naturally occurring fluoridated water at equivalent levels, in scattered areas mainly down the East Coast. The Government is keen to fluoridate the water supply in areas with high levels of dental decay.
Successive governments and health secretaries have supported greater fluoridation, [particularly in deprived areas where nutrition is poorest and oral health discipline is weakest. Moves to introduce it more widely stalled for 30 years after local authorities lost their public health powers in 1974 and water companies were privatised.
A change to the law in 2003, em- powering health authorities to make water companies act, allowed the first new fluoridation scheme in Hampshire this year, despite strong opposition. Authorities in the North West, Derbyshire, Bristol and Kirklees in West Yorkshire are thought to be among those preparing to introduce similar proposals.
The National Pure Water Association said that there was no strong evidence to support the safety or efficacy of fluoridation. “Fluoridation proponents are therefore promoting quack medicine,” a spokesman said. “This medical intervention is currently being carried out by UK water companies without the individual consent of their customers. Water companies are doing to their customers what would attract a charge of assault and battery if a doctor did the same to a patient.”
The Department of Health said there was no question of central government imposing fluoridation. “Decisions should be taken locally following consultations,” a spokesman said.
He added that Mr Burnham had decided to step down from the fluoridation society with immediate effect “as he appreciates that there could be a perceived conflict of interest”.
Fluoridation is UNSAFE because:
- 1) It accumulates in our bones and makes them more brittle and prone to fracture. The weight of evidence from animal studies, clinical studies and epidemiological studies on this is overwhelming. Lifetime exposure to fluoride will contribute to higher rates of hip fracture in the elderly.
2) It accumulates in our pineal gland, possibly lowering the production of melatonin a very important regulatory hormone (Luke, 1997, 2001).
3) It damages the enamel (dental fluorosis) of a high percentage of children. Between 30 and 50% of children have dental fluorosis on at least two teeth in optimally fluoridated communities (Heller et al, 1997 and McDonagh et al, 2000).
4) There are serious, but yet unproven, concerns about a connection between fluoridation and osteosarcoma in young men (Cohn, 1992), as well as fluoridation and the current epidemics of both arthritis and hypothyroidism.
5) In animal studies fluoride at 1 ppm in drinking water increases the uptake of aluminum into the brain (Varner et al, 1998).
6) Counties with 3 ppm or more of fluoride in their water have lower fertility rates (Freni, 1994).
7) In human studies the fluoridating agents most commonly used in the US not only increase the uptake of lead into children's blood (Masters and Coplan, 1999, 2000) but are also associated with an increase in violent behavior.
8) The margin of safety between the so-called therapeutic benefit of reducing dental decay and many of these end points is either nonexistent or precariously low.
And also see Fluoridation Revisited by enemy of the state Murray N. Rothbard.