Aug 18, 2008

water fluoridation - a believer turns against it

The question of water fluoridation has arisen again in our city. Most New Zealand cities fluoridate their water. The vast majority of European cities do not. I found the following article to be extremely thought provoking. I've just copied in the opening paragraph, to get the full article, follow the link.


John Colquhoun © 1997 University of Chicago Press

Former Advocate

To explain how I came to change my opinion about water fluoridation, I must go back to when I was an ardent advocate of the procedure. I now realize that I had learned, in my training in dentistry, only one side of the scientific controversy over fluoridation. I had been taught, and believed, that there was really no scientific case against fluoridation, and that only misinformed lay people and a few crackpot professionals were foolish enough to oppose it. I recall how, after I had been elected to a local government in Auckland (New Zealand's largest city, where I practised dentistry for many years and where I eventually became the Principal Dental Officer) I had fiercely — and, I now regret, rather arrogantly — poured scorn on another Council member (a lay person who had heard and accepted the case against fluoridation) and persuaded the Mayor and majority of my fellow councillors to agree to fluoridation of our water supply...


dc said...

Where do the public opinions sway? And I assume Fl is practically ubiquitous in toothpastes in the supermarkets.

home handymum said...

Yes, you need to go to health food or organic stores to get a toothpaste without Fl in it. My own understanding of it is that fluoride is most likely to be helpful dentally when directly applied to your teeth - like in toothpaste. But that there is little or no evidence of it being beneficial when taken orally (like in drinking water), and that evidence likely exists which suggests it may be harmful.

As for public opinion, that would depend on whom you were asking (of course :)

Some townships have vigorously defended their non-fluoridated water supplies - like two or three little towns just outside of the large town where we live. On the other hand, I suspect the vast majority of people living in our large town don't know and don't care, and a lot of those who have an opinion are pro-fluoridation (status quo). That being said, there is a vocal and growing lobby group asking the city council to review its stance on fluoridation. About a month ago I read in the paper that the council had resolved that they were not qualified to assess the evidence for or against fluoridation - it seemed they were laying the ground work for perhaps having to change their position in the face of public opinion, but we shall see.

Personally I am uncomfortable with mass medication from which you can't easily opt-out.

Given that humans are biological creatures who will have various sensitivities and reactions to different substances, it makes sense to me that at least some people will not react well to Fl in their drinking water, but its ubiquity would make it extremely difficult for those people to isolate the cause of their ailment(s).

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