Suppression of data documenting fluoride's adverse health effects and lack of benefit is wide-spread
Scientists and professionals have been persecuted, censorsed, or harassed when they oppose water fluoridation
Is Science Censored?
Newsweek Is Science Censored?
"Voices of opposition have been suppressed since early days of fluoridation"
Ever since the Public Health Service (PHS) endorsed fluoridation in 1950, detractors have charged that PHS and the medical and dental establishment, such as the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Dental Association (ADA), have suppressed adverse scientific information about its effects.
Some of those who generally support fluoridation make similar charges. For example, Zev Remba, the Washington Bureau editor of AGD Impact, the monthly publication of the Academy of General Dentistry, wrote last year that supporters of fluoridation have had an"unwillingness to release any information that would cast fluorides in a negative light," and that organized dentistry has lost "its objectivity - the ability to consider varying viewpoints together with scientific data to reach a sensible conclusion."
The dozen or so scientists C&EN was able to contact who have done research suggesting negative effects from fluoridation agree on this aspect. They all say that fluoridation research is unusual in this respect.
If the lifeblood of science is open debate of evidence, scientific journals are the veins and arteries of the body scientific. Yet journal editors often have refused for political reasons to publish information that raises questions about fluoridation. A letter from Bernard P. Tillis, editor of the New York State Dental Journal, written in February 1984 to Geoffrey E. Smith, a dental surgeon from Melbourne, Australia, says: "Your paper ... was read here with interest," but it is not appropriate for publication at this time because "the opposition to fluoridation has become virulent again." The paper poses the question: Are people ingesting increasing amounts of fluoride and can they do so with impunity?
Sohan L. Manocha, now a lawyer, and Harold Warner, professor emeritus of biomedical engineering at Emory University medical school in Atlanta, received a similar letter in 1974 from the editor of AMA's Archives of Environmental Health. The editor rejected a report Manocha and Warner submitted on enzyme changes in monkeys who were drinking fluoridated water because of reviewers' comments such as: "I would recommend that this paper not be accepted for publication at this time" because "this is a sensitive subject and any publication in this area is subject to interpretation by anti fluoridation groups."
These papers were subsequently published in prestigious British journals, Science Progress (Oxford) and Histochemical Journal. Many other authors have reported similar difficulties publishing original data that suggest adverse effects of fluoridated water. Most authoritative scientific overviews of fluoridation have omitted negative information about it, even when the oversight is pointed out. Phillips Grandjean, professor of environmental medicine at Odense University in Denmark, wrote to the Environmental Protection Agency in June 1985 about a World Health Organization study on fluorine and fluorides: "Information which could cast any doubt on the advantage of fluoride supplements was left out by the Task Group. Unless I had been present myself, I would have found it hard to believe."
In his 1973 Ph. D. thesis on the fluoridation controversy, Edward Groth, III, a Stanford biology graduate student at that time, concluded that the vast majority of reviews of the literature were designed to promote fluoridation, not to examine evidence objectively. Groth also noted a number of anti fluoridation reviews that were equally biased.
According to Robert J. Carton, an environmental scientist at EPA, the scientific assessment of fluoride's health risks written by the agency in 1985 "omits 90% of the literature on mutagenicity, most of which suggests fluoride is a mutagen."
Several scientists in the U.S. and other countries who have done research or written reports questioning the benefits of fluoridation or suggesting possible health risks were discouraged by their employers from publishing their findings. After their paper had been rejected by the editor of Archives of Environmental Health, Manocha and Warner were told by the director of their department not to try to publish their findings in any other U.S. journal. NIDR had warned the director that the research results would harm the cause of fluoridation. Eventually, Manocha and Warner were granted permission to publish their work in a foreign journal.
In 1982, John A. Colquhoun, former principal dental officer in the Department of Health in Auckland, New Zealand, was told after writing a report that showed no benefit from fluoridation in New Zealand that the department refused him permission to publish it.
In 1980, Brian Dementi, then toxicologist at the Virginia Department of Health, wrote a comprehensive report on "Fluoride and Drinking Water" that suggested possible health risks from fluoridation. This 36-page study has been purged from the department's library even though it is the only one the department has prepared on the subject. According to current employees, no copy exists anywhere in the department. Spokesmen say the report was thrown away because it was old but also say the department will be preparing another report on the subject soon.
An ADA white paper written in 1979 states: "Dentists' nonparticipation [in fluoridation promotion] is overt neglect of professional responsibility." An ADA spokesperson says this is still the association's official policy. In recent years, several dentists who have testified on the anti fluoridation side have been reprimanded by their state dental officers.
ADA and PHS also have actively discouraged research into the health risks of fluoridation by attacking the work or the character of the investigators. As part of their political campaign, they have over the years collected information on perceived anti fluoridation scientists, leaders, and organizations. Newspaper articles about them are stored in files, as are letters about them from various proponents of fluoridation. Little or no effort has been made to verify the accuracy of this information. It is used not only in efforts to counteract arguments of the antifluoridationists, but also to discredit the work and objectivity of U.S. scientists whose research suggests possible health risks from fluoridation.
One example is the false information about the late George L. Waldbott, founder and chief of allergy clinics in four Detroit hospitals, that ADA disseminated widely to discredit the validity of his research. Rather than deal scientifically with his work, ADA mounted a campaign of criticism based largely on a letter from a West German health officer, Heinrich Horning. The letter made a number of untrue statements, including an allegation that Waldbott obtained his information on patients' reactions to fluoride solely from the use of questionnaires. ADA published Hornung's letter in its journal in 1956 and distributed a news release based on the letter. ADA later published Waldbott's response to this letter. But the widely disseminated original news release was not altered or corrected, and continued to be published in many places. As late as 1985, it was still being quoted. Once political attacks effectively portrayed him as "anti fluoridation," Waldbott's work was largely ignored by physicians and scientists.
In November 1962 and 1965, ADA included in its journal long directories of information about anti-fluoridation scientists, organizations, leaders, and others known to be opposed to fluoridation. Listed in alphabetical order were reputable scientists, convicted felons, food faddists, scientific organizations, and the Ku Klux Klan. Information was given about each, including quotes from newspaper articles, some of which contained false data. The information was published for use by proponents of fluoridation in local fluoridation referenda.
John S. Small, information specialist at the National Institute of Dental Research, is quite willing to talk about the files he keeps on anti fluoridation organizations and their leaders. "Of course, we gather information," he says. "These people are running all over the country opposing fluoridation. We have to know what they are up to." Consumer advocate Ralph Nader has a different view of this activity. He calls it an "institutionalized witchhunt."
It is easy to understand why research on risks of fluoridation has never been more vigorously pursued. Most of the individuals and agencies involved have been promoting fluoridation publicly for nearly 40 years. Research that suggests possible harm threatens them with a loss of face. For example, PHS has historically been the principal source of funds for fluoride research; but ever since June 1950, PHS has been officially committed to and responsible for promoting fluoridation. Thus, the agency has a fundamental conflict of interest.
Colquhoun, now teaching the history of education at the University of Auckland, offers another explanation for what appears to be the suppression of research. He notes that the editorial policy of scientific journals has "generally been to not publish material which overtly opposes the fluoridation paradigm." Scientific journals employ a referee system of peer review. But when the overwhelming majority of experts in an area from which the referees are selected are committed to the shared paradigm of fluoridation, Colquhoun notes, the system lends itself to preservation and continuation of the traditional belief that fluoridation is safe and effective. This results in "single-minded promotion, but poor quality research, and an apparent inability to flexibly reassess in the presence of unexpected new data," he says." (1)
Attack on a health officer in Calgary, Smith G, North Hill News,Thurdsay, June 11, 1970
An exhausted, harassed grey-haired man walked down the city hall staircase. "Life would be so much easier if I did not stand up for my principles." he told me following a shocking attack on him in the council chamber.
Dr. W.H. Hill, medical officer of health for the City of Calgary, was soon to retire, a broken man, and he did not have long to live He was a victim of persecution because of his brave stand over fluoridation advising caution against the fluoridation of the city water supply, Hill was abused by councillors, attacked by dentists and victimized by some of his medical colleagues.The fluoridation dispute was one of the most disgusting episodes in the civic history of Calgary during the fifties. The entire campaign was in the tone of the painful transition from smalltown politics.
The campaign in Calgary was carefully planned as a brilliant operation. Calgary was considered a key city in Canada It was compact with one municipal authority and one water supply controlled by that single authority. The population was young, the birth rate fantastic at 32 per 1000, young parents were crowding into the new suburbs The emphasis in the campaign was on the progressive young families.
At that point in time, a municipal authority could order fluoridation without referendum. Later the Alberta government imposed a referendum requirement.
The campaign was headed by a group of brash young dentists sweeping all before them. It was even rumoured that they had imported a man from Vancouver and, put him on city council -- an easy move under city-at-large elections given the right financial backing and support from the old Civic Government Association, succeeded after that became discredited by the United Citizens' Association. Both were much the same sort of pompous stuffed shirt brigade from downtown business.
Hill did not oppose it initially. He was subsequently driven into that situation. He merely said that, until fluoridation had been thoroughly tested and proven not only effective but 100% safe to all consumers, any responsible public health officer must advise caution. Authorities were divided on the issue, he said and until there was unqualified recommendation, he could not recommend it.
The attack was intensified later, both inside and outside the newspaper office. I was even abused at public meetings. It was the start of a protracted and bitter persecution from members of city council.
Fluoridation was now in the open and it has since been dragged out into the arena periodically for the past 15 years. The public has grown bored with it.
Although they had talked most councillors into support, there was one who refused to be browbeaten with science. That was James D. Macdonald lawyer, who tied the dentists up in a few knots when he wanted to know such things as how much research had they done into fluoridation and what was the optimum dosage.
You would not have read much of that in the Calgary press. My report was censored.
Hill was given the roughest mauling of all. He was a convenient target, a shy reserved man who did his job without playing politics and without cultivating the big noises who ran the city The wolves cornered him, abused him and confused him. One alderman of this city proclaimed in a public speech that "Dr Hill is practising quackery in the 20th century." After the meeting I found three young dentists shouting at Dr Hill in the hall. He told me later that one had threatened to "knock your block off."
As the campaign proceeded, the daily newspapers became more strident The opposition could obtain no platform anywhere. The public became suspicious and although the plebiscite required a 66% majority, it was defeated in a straight vote.
The Herald wrote a eulogy on the dentist who had organized the campaign and pointed out that it was the poor people who had most to gain, who had rejected fluoridation. Since then we've had further plebiscites all defeated but the campaigns were conducted on a somewhat higher level.
Phyllis Mullenix, Ph.D., formerly of Harvard University experienced the wrath of the industry when she walked blindly into the fluoride fray as part of her research program with Harvard's Department of Neuropathology and Psychiatry. While holding a dual appointment to Harvard and the Forsyth Dental Research Institute, Dr. Mullenix established the Department of Toxicology at Forsyth for the purpose of investigating the environmental impact of substances that were used in dentistry. During that undertaking she was also directed by the institute's head to investigate fluoride toxicity.
For her toxicology studies Dr. Mullenix designed a computer pattern recognition system that has been described by other scientists as nothing short of elegant in its ability to study fluoride's effects on the neuromotor functions of rats.
THE "MIRACLE OF FLUORIDE" -or- A DIRTY INDUSTRY? "By about 1990 I had gathered enough data from the test and control animals," Mullenix continues, "to realize that fluoride doesn't look clean." When she reviewed that data she realized that something was seriously affecting her test animals. They had all (except the control group) been administered doses of fluoride sufficient to bring their blood levels up to the same as those that had caused dental fluorosis [a brittleness and staining of the teeth] in thousands of children. Up to this point, Mullenix explained, fluorosis was widely thought to be the only effect of excessive fluoridation.
The scientist's first hint that she may not be navigating friendly waters came when she was ordered to present her findings to the National Institute of Dental Research (NIDR) [a division of NIH, the National Institute of Health]. "That's when the 'fun' started," she said, "I had no idea what I was getting into. I walked into the main corridors there and all over the walls was 'The Miracle of Fluoride'. That was my first real kick-in-the-pants as to what was actually going on." The NIH display, she said, actually made fun of and ridiculed those that were against fluoridation. "I thought, 'Oh great!' Here's the main NIH hospital talking about the 'Miracle of Fluoride' and I'm giving a seminar to the NIDR telling them that fluoride is neurotoxic!"
What Dr. Mullenix presented at the seminar that, in reality, sounded the death knell of her career was that: "The fluoride pattern of behavioral problems matches up with the same results of administering radiation and chemotherapy [to cancer patients]. All of these really nasty treatments that are used clinically in cancer therapy are well known to cause I.Q. deficits in children."
Then in 1994, after refining her research and findings, Dr. Mullenix presented her results to the Journal of Neurotoxicology and Teratology , considered probably the world's most respected publication in that field. Three days after she joyfully announced to the Forsyth Institute that she had been accepted for publication by the journal, she was dismissed from her position. What followed was a complete evaporation of all grants and funding for any of Mullenix's research. What that means in the left-brain world of scientific research, which is fueled by grants of government and corporate capital, is the equivalent to an academic burial. Her letter of dismissal from the Forsyth Institute stated as their reason for that action that her work was not "dentally related." [Fluoride research--not dentally related?] The institute's director stated, according to Mullenix, "they didn't consider the safety or the toxicity of fluoride as being their kind of science." Of course, a logical question begs itself at this last statement: why was Dr. Mullenix assigned the study of fluoride toxicity in the first place if it was not "their kind of science"?
Subsequently, she was continually hounded by both Forsyth and the NIH as to the identity of the journal in which her research was to be published. She told The WINDS that she refused to disclose that information because she knew the purpose of this continual interrogation was so that they could attempt to quash its publication. Almost immediately following her dismissal, Dr. Mullenix said, the Forsyth Institute received a quarter-million dollar grant from the Colgate company. Coincidence or reward?
Following her dismissal, the scientist's equipment and computers, designed specifically for the studies, were mysteriously damaged and destroyed by water leakage before she could remove them from Forsyth. Coincidence?
Dr. Mullenix was then given an unfunded research position at Children's Hospital in Boston, but with no equipment and no money--what for? "The people at Children's Hospital, for heaven's sake, came right out and said they were scared because they knew how important the fluoride issue was," Mullenix said. "Even at Forsyth they told me I was endangering funds for the institution if I published that information."
The end result of the dark odyssey of Phyllis Mullenix, Ph.D., and her journey through the nightmare of the fluoride industry is, essentially, a ruined career of a brilliant scientist because her's was not "their kind of science".
I understood from Dr. Bill Lewis that you are interested in data concerning skeletal fluorosis, especially in relation to high fluoride levels in drinking water.
You are most certainly aware that very severe cases occur in developing countries where calcium deficiency may render the patients more susceptible to fluoride toxicity. Perhaps the problem is most severe in India where every single state has areas or pockets of high fluoride. During my short stays in this country, I have seen many cases of crippling fluorosis, some with spinal cord compression. My colleague, Dr. A.K. Susheela, of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi, has estimated that a total of 40 million people in India are exposed to toxic amounts of fluoride, about half of them experiencing symptoms at this time. This number is of course a very rough estimate. However nobody would doubt that fluoride toxicity in some developing countries is a very important public health problem.
Unfortunately, fluoride toxicity has been a "faut pas" for many years, and anybody discussing this topic would be suspected to belong to the antifluoridation movement. Thus, the recently published Environmental Health Criteria 36 on Fluorine and Fluorides (WHO, 1989) only superficially discusses chronic toxicity, while beneficial effects and safety margins are dealt with in detail. As Temporary Adviser I was present at most of the Task Group meeting when the document was finalized. In accordance with the official fluoridation policy, information which could cast any doubt on the advantage of fluoride supplements was left out by the Task Group. Unless 1 had been present myself, I would have found it hard to believe. Thus, I am pleased that you have taken a personal interest in the problems of chronic fluoride toxicity,
My own work mostly deals with occupational fluoride exposures. For your information, I enclose two recent reprints.