22. FLUORIDATION RISKS RAISED BY NEW PUBLIC HEALTH
Fluoridation has been a controversial issue since fluoride
was added to public drinking water in the 1940s to prevent tooth decay.
the Department of Health and Human Services has released an "executive summary"
of a 13-year analysis of the benefits and risks of fluorides based on a study
in which animals were given sodium fluoride in their drinking water.
study was conducted by the National Toxicology Program (NTP). The NTP, a research
and testing program with the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS), found a small number
of malignant bone tumors (osteosarcomas) in male rats. The NTP study concluded
that there was "equivocal" evidence of carcinogenic activity in male
According to NTP's standard definition, "equivocal" evidence
of carcinogenicity shows a marginal increase of tumors that may be chemically
related. The suggestion of "equivocal" evidence of carcinogenic activity
as a result of fluoridation is a change from the "zero risk" results
the government had assured us of since the first studies were done in 1945.
addition, the study acknowledged an increased likelihood of dental fluorosis since
the 1940s and 1950s when the major sources of fluoride were from drinking water
and food. Today, numerous sources of fluoride are available, including dental
products containing fluoride, such as toothpaste's and mouth rinses, fluoride
dietary supplements, as well as beverages and foods prepared with fluoridated
The report recommends that the U.S. Public Health Service
should continue to recommend the use of fluoride to prevent dental decay and continue
to support fluoridation of drinking water.
However, it also calls for PHS
to sponsor scientific conferences to determine the optimal level of total fluoride
exposure from all sources and the appropriate usage of fluoride containing dental
products to achieve the benefits of reduced dental decay and to minimize the occurrence
of dental fluorosis. Additionally, the report calls for a major educational program
which encourages manufacturers of toothpaste to make the fluoride levels in their
products easily known. It also calls for the U.S. FDA to review labeling for toothpaste
and other fluoride containing products, and for state programs to keep physicians,
dentists, pharmacists, and communities informed about the fluoridation status
of drinking water.
The United States is one of the few industrialized nations
with a major fluoridation program; most countries have outlawed fluoridation or
banned it after years of experiments.
SSU CENSORED RESEARCHER: SCOTT SHAWVER
SOURCE: U.S. PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE Department of Health and Human Services
200 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20201
DATE: February 1991
TITLE: "Executive Summary of the Review of Fluoride Benefits and
COMMENTS: Fluoridation has been an emotional and controversial
issue since the 1940s when it was first added to public drinking water.
Because of this, in our efforts to present the issue as objectively
as possible to the Project Censored panel of judges, we relied solely
on the report by the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS). Notwithstanding
the natural inclination of the PHS to defend its long held position
and to maintain the status quo on this issue, the report raised some
serious questions about the efficacy and safety of adding fluoridation
to our water.
Censored also has received a number of nominations from other sources questioning
the advisability of continuing the fluoridation program. One of these sources
is Isabel McCord, of the Safe Water Coalition, in Piedmont, California. In her
well-documented letter, McCord points out that "Sweden, Denmark, Holland
and Spain have outlawed fluoridation of water. West Germany discontinued fluoridation
in 1987, after 18 years of experiments. Norway, France, Italy and Japan do not
fluoridate their water. Only the United States and the United Kingdom continue
fluoridation in the fact of adverse evidence."
In a lengthy petition/letter,
titled "Water Fluoridation and Cancer," McCord points out that while
fluoridation has generally been accepted as good for children's teeth and without
risk to the public, "with each new scientific study we have more reason to
believe that fluoridation of water is both unnecessary and a risk to the public
In a strong criticism of the Executive Summary issued by the
PHS, John R. Lee, M.D., from Sebastopol, California, blasts the PHS report for
"half-truths, disinformation, errors of omission, and other errors"
that fail to present the real danger of fluoridation.
Shirley Graves, from
San Anselmo, California, sent along a copy of The Informer, a monthly published
in Allegany County, Maryland. A front page article in the September, 1991, issue
quoted a research scientist's warning to the EPA that "immediate action is
needed to lower the permitted fluoride levels because certain segments of the
U.S. population are currently sustaining fluoride induced injuries such as hip
Given the obvious national concern, and the equivocal findings
by the Public Health Service, it would appear that the issue of fluoridation deserves
to be put on the national agenda.