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Bulletin: Ending the Betrayal of Trust

By Paul Connett, PHD

August 8, 2010

Even though the combined forces of the CDC (and other agencies of the mighty US Department of Health and Human Services- DHHS) and ADA have enormous political power and huge financial resources, as far as fluoridation promotion is concerned they are lumbering giants waiting to be toppled by some shrewd tactics from citizens. Why do I say that?

a) Because there is no scientific substance to their repeated mantra that fluoridation is “safe and effective.”

b) They have only been able to get away with this lack of scientific support for their assertions because they have been able to keep doctors, dentists, scientists, the media and the general public away from the literature. They can’t do that any more because the science is now readily available via the internet.

c) Moreover, many of the citizens’ concerns about fluoride’s dangers has now been validated by the National Research Council in their landmark 507-page report published in 2006.

d) In my opinion, no professional can read the NRC report and can honestly conclude that there is an adequate margin of safety between the doses now known to cause harm and the doses that some people will receive drinking uncontrolled quantities of fluoridated water along with fluoride from other sources (especially vulnerable subsections of the public).

e) Even the ADA and the CDC now admit that bottle fed babies should not be given fluoridated water (even though they are not taking vigorous steps to get this message to parents). If it is not safe for everyone then the practice should cease immediately.

f) The evidence of harm is too visible to be ignored. 32% of American children now have dental fluorosis. It is reckless to assume that if fluoride can damage the growing tooth cells in a baby’s body that it will not impact any other tissue. With risks clearly involved the notion that governments should force this on people without their informed consent is even more ridiculous.

g) More and more professionals are recognizing these facts and speaking out. These include the 11 unions that represent professionals at the US EPA; over 3000 professionals calling for an end to fluoridation and the 15 of these who have articulated their position in a widely-watched videotape, “Professional Perspectives on Water Fluoridation.”

h) For those who have missed all these sources of information that undermine the promoters’ case, our book coming out in early October should put the final scientific nails into their coffin.

i) Hitherto, the two chains of command operated by the CDC and the ADA have been able to get doctors, dentists and public health officials to mouth their unscientific assertions with confidence.  However, there are signs that that confidence is evaporating as more and more dentists are waking up to the fact that they have been lied to do by the ADA both on the “safety” of mercury amalgams and the safety and effectiveness of water fluoridation.

j) So how can citizens further exploit these weaknesses and topple the huge web of deception that water fluoridation has become? First, it helps to know their game plan. We have seen this played out again and again in towns across the country. Whenever, fluoridation is proposed or threatened, the ADA arranges through its state dental association and thence to the local dental society to besiege council chambers with their white-coated army of dentists. This is coupled with a few choreographed letters to local papers signed by local dentists and doctors (but usually written by PR firms). The Florida Dental Association has recently made this strategy clearly visible.

k) The promoters’ strategy only has a chance of working if they can get local dentists and doctors playing along and as we have indicated above more and more are smelling a rat. Not being on top of the literature cuts both ways: on the one hand dentists and doctors can be easily misled by the ADA and often become easy puppets. In the past their confident assurances have been believed and they have won the day.  On the other hand, today, now that more and more citizens are on top of that literature, dentists and doctors are finding that they have been set up for some real professional embarrassment when the mistakes and half-truths are pointed out – in public.

l) Some people find this all very hard to believe. Why would the CDC and the ADA continue to push this practice if they knew a) it wasn’t working and b) it might be causing harm? What could possibly be more important than the public’s health (let alone the public’s purse). The answer lies in two words: credibility and liability.

The CDC fears that if they have been found to be wrong on fluoridation that they will suffer a huge credibility hit. Public health requires the public’s trust. If the public loses its trust in the CDC’s claims on fluoridation, what about its trust in vaccinations and other public health measures?

For the ADA it is probably the fear of both losing professional credibility (think of those 120,000 annual dues from their members) and liability that drives them forward. The ADA has its name on every fluoridated dental product sold in the US. These sales are worth millions. In addition, the legal costs of defending against class action lawsuits would bankrupt them. They simply cannot admit to any harm. Thus they have to deny the scientific significance or relevance of every health study that finds harm, including the whole of the  NRC (2006) report, which they did on the very day it was published (March 22, 2006).

m) Assuming that the ADA can still find dentists to come to public meetings and mouth the party line, or the CDC can get public health officials to do likewise, how can citizens defeat this 60-year strategy today? The answers are very simple:

1) First of all citizens must make it clear that ethics must come before science in this matter. No government – no matter how well-meaning– has the right to force any citizen to take a medicine. The right to informed consent to medicine is enshrined in modern medicine and is well articulated by the AMA. Citizens should wear this sign around their necks to public meetings on this issue: “I do NOT give my CONSENT!”

2) Citizens and councilors have to make it very clear that dentists have no professional expertise to make statements on any tissue in the body other than teeth. The dental lobby has controlled this debate for far too long. Dentists should be pulled up short the fist time the word “safe” comes out of their mouths. They have no expertise to make that statement. “Sir, I trust your judgment when it comes to my teeth, but not when it comes to my bones or my children’s brains. What qualifications allow you to speak on other tissues in my body and the harm that fluoride may cause them.”

3) Should they claim otherwise, then further questions should elicit what primary scientific literature they have read that supports their claims of safety and effectiveness. When it becomes clear that they cannot cite many – or any – primary studies to support their claims, but rather resort to CDC statements or ADA and other agency endorsements or self-serving government reviews, then this must be called what this represents: hearsay evidence.

Citizens’ questioning might go along these lines:

Question 1: “ Sir, (or madam) can you cite a single peer-reviewed published study that has used a randomized clinical trial to establish ingested fluoride’s ability to reduce tooth decay?”

They can’t do this – they simply don’t exist

Question 2: “Sir, what primary scientific studies have convinced you that fluoridation poses no dangers to human health other than dental fluorosis?”

 

The chances are high that they won’t be able to do this and instead cite endorsements or reviews from government-sponsored bodies like the NHMRC (2007) in Australia. Ask these follow-up questions:

Question 3:“Sir, in this report you have cited, can you tell me what primary studies it contains that you feel best establishes the safety of fluoridation? Have you read these studies?”

If they cannot answer these questions then the follow up question could be:

Question 4: “Sir, is it not true that you haven’t read the primary literature yourself and that what you are telling us is based on what you have been told? Isn’t that tantamount to hearsay evidence?”

4) If the brave dentist or doctor continues to insist he has qualifications to speak on these matters, then ask him or her whether they have read the NRC (2006) report.

 If they answer no, they don’t look as if they are on top of the issue. If they answer yes then ask them “Is it in your professional judgment that there is an adequate margin of safety between the does that cause harm as documented in this report sufficient to protect everyone in society – including vulnerable subsets of the population -drinking uncontrolled amounts of fluoridated water and getting fluoride from other sources?” Some might brazen this out and say yes, but I don’t think they will be very convincing, especially if you ask them what kind of margin of safety they think would be needed for this purpose. Normally, a margin of safety of 10 is needed between the lowest level that cause harm and the highest dose that people will receive. This margin of safety is needed to take into account the full range of sensitivity that any human population will have to a toxic substance. Such a margin of safety if applied would eliminate fluoridation based on several adverse health effects identified in the NRC report (arthritic symptoms, bone fractures, moderate and severe dental fluorosis, lowered IQ and lowered thyroid function).

5) Personally, I have no joy in the prospect of embarrassing professional people in public on this matter and I hope that it doesn’t come to that. Hopefully, we can warn them ahead of time that if they go along with the CDC/ADA game plan then they are going to look foolish in the public’s eyes when their many mistakes and half truths are pointed out. If they ignore these warnings and go ahead and risk this professional embarrassment, then so be it. Their embarrassment is a small price to pay in order to end the pain and worry that this reckless and unnecessary practice is causing.

I wish I had known all this 14 years ago when the phalanx of local dentists and doctors used their professional standing in our community to assure people at a public meeting that fluoridation was “safe and effective.”  It was only after the meeting was over that I discovered that one of the doctors present was not on top of the literature and even refused to take three scientific articles I asked him to read after the meeting. He said, “I don’t have time to read those.” When I said that that was not very responsible, he said “I don’t have time to read up on every issue that crosses my desk.” To which I replied, ‘I quite understand that, but you shouldn’t let people believe that you have studied this issue and that fluoridation in your professional judgment is safe.”

In my view the promotion of this practice by the CDC and the ADA is a betrayal of trust. First, it betrays the trust of the busy professional who cannot keep up with the Bulletin: Ending the literature. Second, it is a betrayal of the public trust when these same professionals tell the public that fluoridation is safe, based only what they have been told by others and not their own review or research of the literature.

This betrayal must come to an end and we are going to need a well-informed army of citizens to do it.  We start by eliminating the testimony of those who haven’t read the literature, and then we move on to the middle men, those like the dental directors of state health departments, whose job it is to promote fluoridation. Unlike your local doctors and dentists this goes beyond mere embarrassment. Because they are paid by the taxpayer they are obliged to demonstrate due diligence. They cannot do this. We simply have to demonstrate that.

Paul Connett