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Archive for Friday, February 7, 2014

Fluoride fight pits oral health advocates against those who say their science is outdated

February 7, 2014

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Mary Marshall, a registered dental hygienist at Douglas County Dental Clinic, checks the teeth of her brother and patient Gary Marshall on Thursday. A hearing will soon be held in the state legislature for an anti-fluoride bill that would require municipalities that fluoridate their water, which includes Lawrence, to notify citizens that fluoride can reduce the IQ of children. Oral health advocates are fighting back.

Mary Marshall, a registered dental hygienist at Douglas County Dental Clinic, checks the teeth of her brother and patient Gary Marshall on Thursday. A hearing will soon be held in the state legislature for an anti-fluoride bill that would require municipalities that fluoridate their water, which includes Lawrence, to notify citizens that fluoride can reduce the IQ of children. Oral health advocates are fighting back.

Two years ago, Jessica Thompson and Richard Simms started an online petition to keep fluoride out of the city of Lawrence's water supply. They managed to get nearly 500 signatures and a segment on the local TV news. Nothing came of it.

But Thompson, a cashier, and Simms, a stay-at-home dad, are political novices. Mark Gietzen is not.

Gietzen has been protesting at Wichita abortion clinics and working to advance conservative political causes in the state for decades. Last year, he helped draft an antifluoride bill that his state representative, Steve Brunk of Wichita, introduced into the Legislature. The bill would require municipalities that fluoridate their water to notify citizens that "the latest science confirms that ingested fluoride lowers the IQ in children."

Oral health advocates are fighting back. They say the benefits of fluoride in fighting tooth decay are immeasurable, that the science on the safety of water fluoridation is settled, that cities like Lawrence have been fluoridating their water for decades with no ill effects. Nearly 75 percent of Americans live in communities that add fluoride to their water to help prevent tooth decay, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Still, the legislation is scheduled for a hearing before the House Health and Human Services Committee (it was delayed until Feb. 19 by this week's snowstorm).

Gietzen said fluoride wasn't even on his radar before the city of Wichita held a vote in 2012 on whether it should add the chemical to its water supply (the measure lost). As he got further into the science, he says, he realized that eliminating water fluoridation in America has the potential to save more lives than even outlawing abortion.

"I'm doing the most pro-life work I've ever done with this fluoride fight," he said.

He now blames fluoride for his father's death from cancer and his brother's thyroid problem. He cites a study comparing the incidence of disease in Ireland (which fluoridates its water) and Northern Ireland (which does not) that shows the former to have significantly higher rates of such conditions as early onset dementia, sudden infant death syndrome and hypothyroidism. The claims about lowering IQ, meanwhile, come from a 2012 Harvard study that found a correlation between slower brain development and increased levels of fluoride in water; the research mostly looked at kids in China, which, unlike the U.S., has a high natural occurrence of fluoride in its water.

Kevin Richardson, executive director of the Kansas Dental Association, said antifluoride activists fall into two camps: those who believe it is "an industrial chemical that causes every type of cancer and ailment" or those who think "fluoride is used by government as a mind-control agent."

"Fluoride lowers the incidence of tooth decay — that's a proven fact," Richardson said, noting that the CDC has named water fluoridation one of the top 10 public health achievements of the 21st century.

"Fluoride in the water saves the Medicaid system a lot of money," asserted Julie Branstrom, executive director of the Douglas County Dental Clinic. "Over the long haul the cost of putting fluoride in the water is far less than treating tooth decay."

Lawrence dentist James Otten says that in 30 years of practicing dentistry he's observed that patients who grew up in places with fluoridated water generally have less tooth decay than those who didn't. "It has the most effect on developing teeth in children, as they're growing, from about age 3 to about age 12," he said. "Starting kids off with good enamel and better resistance to disease really has a profound effect on their entire lifetime."

According to the most recent data from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, 36 percent of students in Douglas County had been treated for tooth decay, compared with 44 percent in Sedgwick County (home to Wichita). Sedgwick County also had a slightly higher rate of students with untreated decay (16 percent to 15 percent).

One of the world's most active opponents of water fluoridation lived right here in Lawrence. But Albert Burgstahler, a professor emeritus of chemistry at Kansas University and editor and chief of the scientific journal Fluoride, died Oct. 18. He was 85.

He became concerned about fluoride after moving to Lawrence as a young professor at KU and developing a thyroid condition. When he started distilling his water, he asserted, his health improved. He spent the remainder of his years researching fluoridation and what he claimed to be its ill effects on public health.

Burgstahler gave credibility to the antifluoridation side, said his friend, Paul Finney, a Humboldt acupuncturist who called Burgstahler "one of the most honest people I've known in my life." Finney says public health officials support water fluoridation "because they believe what they were taught in school and they don't bother to read the science. As Professor Burgstahler would say over and over is, 'Why don't people read?!' and then he would pound on the table with his fists."

The House Health and Human Services Committee will ultimately decide whether the bill proceeds, but Finney and other antifluoride advocates don't appear to be giving up on the cause anytime soon.

Back in Lawrence, Thompson and Simms are glad to see others are taking this issue on. The married couple say they no longer drink the city tap water because they believe it was causing them health problems (they self-diagnosed the cause as fluoride poisoning after researching it on the Internet, they say). So what do the two consume in place of tap water?

"We've got a 9-month-old, so right now we're drinking a lot of caffeine," Thompson joked.

Comments

Kyle Chandler 2 months, 1 week ago

Strange isnt it - Dr. Steven Slott DDS seems to have lost interest in this thread. Wonder why? Sorry Steve, didnt mean to out you buddy. My comment about sugar was basically to parallel the similar attitudes taken by 'professionals' (not 'scientists') wherein blanket statements are made as gospel - ' a little flouride never hurt anyone!' 'Its just sugar!' 'Vioxx is FDA approved it doesnt hurt anyone!' - Understand? Flouridation is just another wasted money scheme - Did anyone in this thread ask about how much it costs to implement this? No, and judging by those who are for it - these are the same folks that HATE extra government expenditure. Are you now going to tell me that mercury fillings are completely safe too because the ADA says they are? Maybe there is a Huffinton post article you'd like to cite saying they are.

Just to take your temperature - can you tell me the differences between US dental regulations and those of our neighbor - Mexico?

As far as HFCS being 'sugar' its all in the process - you yourself Ron said it wasnt 'chemically' the same. The manufacturing processes for white table sugar - HFCS - or even Coconut Palm Sugar are VERY VERY different. Chemically treated anything (especially with bleach) leaves things behind that the FDA turns a blind eye to constantly. Its a fact. No tinfoil hat here- sorry.

Oh and Ron, i am the natural living person - i live on Michigan St. But i love a good hall monitor. Keep up the good work!

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Kyle Chandler 2 months, 1 week ago

Mr. Slott - You seem to be spending an awful lot of time on the internet defending flouride implementation - a simple google search of you and your business brings up similar cut and paste replies on other online media outlets forums. You decry anyones opinion regarding the regulation of flouridation and beg for evidence - but from what i've seen (repeated throughout these forums) you dont seem have any links to anything but biased and inaccurate information or just an entire lack of evidence period, meanwhile you bash a chinese study that no one in the scientific community considers valid in the first place. You also seem to ignore several European studies that discovered just the opposite of your claims. If you were from Kansas - i would perhaps give you a little break, but its very obvious - you are but a planted web persona (some would call it TROLLING) with no real interest in Kansans or their health for that matter.

I urge everyone to do your own research - this is VERY similar to the high fructose corn syrup debate - all those ads that say 'its just sugar' - hilarious.

I do commend your tactical typing Mr. Slott, but maybe just worry about North Carolina and let us make our own decisions here in Kansas. Deal?

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John Kyle 2 months, 1 week ago

"Burgstahler gave credibility to the antifluoridation side, said his friend, Paul Finney, a Humboldt acupuncturist who called Burgstahler "one of the most honest people I've known in my life.""

A quack supporting a quack

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Mike Edson 2 months, 1 week ago

Why would anyone doubt the research data found on the internet? Everyone knows that you can't put something on the internet that isn't true. (Holding a sarcasm sign)

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Billy Budd 2 months, 1 week ago

On the one hand we have the overwhelming professional and scientific consensus well represented by the 100+ prestigious organizations recognizing the importance of community water fluoridation to better health.

see: What Respected Organizations Say About Water Fluoridation http://www.ilikemyteeth.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/RespectedOrgs-noPics_v2a.pdf

On the other hand are folks who spend some time on the Fluoride Action Network, basically the creation of a single retired chemistry professor and his family, where they find plenty to confirm their prejudices.

But after almost 70 years of fluoridation there simply are not data to show any harm at 0.7 ppm. What those extra fluoride ions do is prevent cavities. It is pretty straightforward.

The most compelling benefit is the prevention of about 2/3rds of the hospital operations (root canals, extractions, metal crowns) under general anesthesia in little preschool children.

For this benefit alone the ROI is 150%. I know Lawrence and other Kansas communities value their children & wants the best for them. They should follow their trusted dental professional's opinion and demand drinking water with optimally healthy fluoride ions.

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Brendon Allen 2 months, 1 week ago

Fluoridation is the most monstrously conceived and dangerous communist plot we have ever had to face.

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Keith Richards 2 months, 1 week ago

Hey, if a cashier and a stay at home dad say fluoride is bad, dammit, I say get rid of it! Now if only these two would address our nation's debt problem.

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Kyle Neuer 2 months, 1 week ago

Great. The Birchers are coming after the fluoride again. Out to protect our precious bodily fluids, no doubt.

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Janet Nagel 2 months, 1 week ago

When fluoridation was started in Grand Rapids in 1945, it was stated that it would cause dental fluorosis--discolored tooth enamel. It was guestimated--no scientific trial was done--that fluoridation would cause fluorosis in about 10% of those exposed while their teeth were forming. Seven decades later the figure in the US stands at around 40%. Fluorosis is permanent disfigurement that is emotionally traumatic. In what universe is government entitled to impose this affliction on anyone? In what universe is any health profession entitled to advocate this?

And what is the physiological mechanism that results in fluorosis? Fluorosis is the result of poisoning of the enamel-building cells (ameloblasts) by fluoride circulating in the blood, so that the enamel they produce is weakened and discolored. Fluorosis is a biomarker of chronic fluoride poisoning.

When fluoride is circulating in the blood and poisoning ameloblasts, is it also poisoning other cells? Is fluoride poisoning continuing after tooth formation is complete? Dental professionals advocating fluoridation don't know the answers, because "it's not their department" and their dental education has not prepared them to understand and interpret scientific research. (Pretty scary since we thought we could rely on their expert opinions.)

Dental fluorosis makes poisoning by fluoridation self-evident. But even if there were no such visible proof, it is a clear violation of health care ethics and of civil liberties to impose blanket treatment on entire populations--young, old, healthy or not. Since 2006 the CDC advises that fluoridated water is not healthy for infants.

Fluoridation is unethical and unhealthy. There is no excuse for it.

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Beth Ennis 2 months, 1 week ago

I knew Albert Burgstahler and he had many other examples and tests to show how just the low level in the city water makes a huge difference in your health. Sometimes it is easier to just go with the status quo than to really look at other evidence. He spent over 50 years researching this based on his own health. I would like to see the 2 sides try to come up with another way to get the required amount of floride in to children. No one here mentioned the study in Ireland that shows significant differences in health issues between the north and the south. I personally haven't researched that study and I do drink city tap water. However, I also developed a thyroid condition a number of years ago. There are many instances where something that is good for us in one aspect is bad for us in another. It would be nice if we could pick and choose, but in this case, we don't get that option, unless we want to pay for our water in a bottle and then there is no guarantee, unless you send it out for independant testing, that it is floride free also.

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Bob Zimmerman 2 months, 1 week ago

My gosh...

The state of Kansas is "devolving". From education funding cuts...to income tax cuts/sales tax increases...to gutting tech-based economic development...to ideas like this.

Meanwhile, other states are zooming by.

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Fred Whitehead Jr. 2 months, 1 week ago

This is yet another non-problem looking for a massave solution in the mold of Kris Kobach with his anti-voting crusade. An issue by the cronically under-occupied to attract attention to themselves and create some sort of massive issue where none exists.

Why is this even mentioned in blaring headlines, given the non-problem that it is. Slow news day??

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Beator 2 months, 1 week ago

You know, I once heard marijuana makes you stupid. But, people want marijuana for medicinal and recreational use? I bet if fluoride made you feel like marijuana does, fluoride would be illegal.

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Scut Farkus 2 months, 1 week ago

Almost anything is toxic if consumed in excess, including salt, vitamins, water or oxygen!

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Ron Holzwarth 2 months, 1 week ago

Thousands of people seem to be jumping on the anti-fluoride bandwagon on no more than anecdotal evidence. And, on less than half a dozen cases at that.

Clipped from the article:
",,, Steve Brunk of Wichita, introduced into the Legislature. The bill would require municipalities that fluoridate their water to notify citizens that "the latest science confirms that ingested fluoride lowers the IQ in children.""

Latest science? Where did that science come from? Was it ever replicated? Were other possible causative factors eliminated? Do the researchers who wrote the study in the first place claim that it has any applicability in the United States? No to all of that!

Next up: Kansas will ban the teaching of evolution, because science has never been able to replicate it in the laboratory, so the latest science confirms that it is not a factual theory. Right?

And the Earth is flat, that's obvious when you look around.

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Ron Holzwarth 2 months, 1 week ago

From the article above:
"The claims about lowering IQ, meanwhile, come from a 2012 Harvard study"

This clip discusses that study:
http://www.kansas.com/2012/09/11/2485561/harvard-scientists-data-on-fluoride.html

"Harvard University scientists say that Wichita voters shouldn’t depend on a research study they compiled to decide whether to put fluoride in the city’s drinking water to fight tooth decay.

While the studies the Harvard team reviewed did indicate that very high levels of fluoride could be linked to lower IQs among schoolchildren, the data is not particularly applicable here because it came from foreign sources where fluoride levels are multiple times higher than they are in American tap water.

Opponents of adding fluoride to Wichita’s drinking water have frequently cited the Harvard research in their efforts to persuade Wichitans to reject a ballot initiative that would require the water department to introduce the cavity-fighting chemical into the water supply.

Fluoride supporters gathered more than 11,000 signatures in favor of fluoridated water, forcing the City Council to put it to a vote on the Nov. 6 ballot.

Two of the scientists who compiled the Harvard study on fluoride said it really doesn’t address the safety of fluoridation levels typical of American drinking water.

“These results do not allow us to make any judgment regarding possible levels of risk at levels of exposure typical for water fluoridation in the U.S.,” the researchers said in an e-mail response to questions from The Eagle. “On the other hand, neither can it be concluded that no risk is present.”

The researchers noted that the fluoride levels they studied were much higher than what is found in fluoridated water in the United States and recommended “further research to clarify what role fluoride exposure levels may play in possible adverse effects on brain development, so that future risk assessments can properly take into regard this possible hazard.”

The e-mail was jointly signed by the study’s primary authors, research scientist Anna Choi and Associate Professor Philippe Grandjean, of the Department of Environmental Health at the Harvard School of Public Health."

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Ron Holzwarth 2 months, 1 week ago

Fluoridation at an appropriate dose does not seem to have ill effects, but at a dosage level of more than ten times or so the recommended dose, and possibly combined with other chemicals such as arsenic, ill effects certainly are possible.

Meanwhile, I'm quite sure that people who have strong feelings about fluoridation and want it to be stopped expose their children to second hand smoke, which we know for a fact is very harmful, without a second thought.

Clipped from:
http://openparachute.wordpress.com/2013/09/18/fluoridation-the-iq-myth/

"The EHP article reviewed studies on IQ scores for children living in areas of China, Mongolia and Iran where the water supplies have unusually high, natural fluoride levels. In many cases, the high-fluoride areas were significantly higher than the levels used to fluoridate public water systems in the U.S. In fact, the high-fluoride areas in these countries reached levels as high as 11.5 mg/L — more than 10 times higher than the optimal level used in the U.S."

"The two Harvard researchers who reviewed these studies have distanced themselves from the way in which anti-fluoride activists have misrepresented their article. After contacting these researchers, the Wichita Eagle newspaper reported, “While the studies the Harvard team reviewed did indicate that very high levels of fluoride could be linked to lower IQs among schoolchildren, the data is not particularly applicable here because it came from foreign sources where fluoride levels are multiple times higher than they are in American tap water.”"

"The Harvard researchers wrote in their article that the average standardized mean difference (0.45) in IQ scores “may be within the measurement error of IQ testing.” Despite web pages claiming that the article ”confirms” that fluoride reduces IQ scores, the Harvard co-authors did not reach a firm conclusion, writing instead that “our results support the possibility of adverse effects …” Indeed, their article called for more and better-quality research, including more “precise” data on the children involved and assurances that other factors have been ruled out as reasons for the IQ differences."

"Given the small difference in IQ scores, it’s possible that arsenic levels, school quality, nutrition, parents’ educational levels or other factors could have shaped the results. The authors also added that “reports of lead concentrations in the study villages in China were not available”— another factor that could not be ruled out. A British research team reviewed similar Chinese studies, found “basic errors” in them, and reported that “water supplies may be contaminated with other chemicals such as arsenic, which may affect IQ.”"

"Between the 1940s and the 1990s, the average IQ scores of Americans improved 15 points. This gain (approximately 3 IQ points per decade) came during the same period when fluoridation steadily expanded to serve millions and millions of additional Americans."

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