Friday, August 17, 2012

Irish Times Letter by Dr. Seamus Hickey and the Irish Expert Body on Fluoride and Health

Dr Seamus Hickey claims (Letter Irish Times 17th August 2012) that the Irish Expert Body (IEB) on Fluoride and Health assessed the same studies as Harvard University and found they were of no relevance to Ireland. The ultimate ruling on scientific issues like this is based upon weighting of scientific evidence in published literature and not on the basis of opinion. I would like to see the evidence to support this statement by the IEB, for if this is true, there would have been no need for Harvard to publish their peer reviewed study. I would also ask, has the IEB commissioned fluoridation/ IQ studies to be performed in Ireland to support this claim? (Answer, NO). 

Furthermore I would also ask, now fluoride in drinking water has been scientifically demonstrated to be a developmental neurotoxin, and given the dramatic increase in neurological disease witnessed in this country, including children suffering autism spectrum disorders, children suffering attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and adults suffering Alzheimer’s disease, do the Irish authorities intend to undertake any studies to demonstrate that fluoride in water is not contributing to this disease burden within our community? or indeed are the IEB simply content to attack the methodology of any study that finds fluoride causes harm to humans or the environment? the only position unfortunately which appears to be their approach to date. 

We do not know the causes for the alarming increases in these diseases but we do know that wherever possible, everything must be done by regulatory agencies and caregivers to protect the brain from known neurotoxins. Fluoride is a known neurotoxin and it is time to stop adding it to public drinking water systems.

As far as the levels at which lowered IQ were found in international studies Ding et al (2011) found lowered IQ between 0.3 - 3 ppm, Xiang estimated a threshold at 1.8 ppm (Xiang et al, 2003 a and b). Both Ding and Xiang found a correlation between the lowering of IQ and the levels of fluoride in urine - a measure of individual exposure. Xiang (2012) found a correlation between plasma fluoride and lowering of IQ - an even better measure of individual exposure.

Dr Hickey should be aware that prior to the recent Harvard Study the same reseachers in a previous peer reviewed published study stated: "In humans, only five substances have so far been documented as developmental neurotoxicants: lead, methylmercury, polychlorinated biphenyls, arsenic, and toluene. From this evidence, including our own studies on some of these substances, parallels may be drawn that suggest that fluoride could well belong to the same class of toxins but uncertainties remain…" In their latest study Professor Grandjean goes further and notes that "Fluoride seems to fit in with lead, mercury, and other poisons that cause chemical brain drain,” noting that “the effect of each toxicant may seem small, but the combined damage on a population scale can be serious”.

Dr Hickey notes that the upper limit for naturally occurring calcium fluoride in the United States is five times higher than the Irish Limit. What he does not mention is that the U.S National Academy of Science's (NAS) National Research Council (NRC) published their review of fluoride in water in 2006 and unanimously found that this level to be unsafe. As a consequence of which the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have now reduced the recommended optimum fluoride level to 0.7ppm for drinking water, which is below that recommended in Ireland. Furthermore at least three distinguished panel members advise avoiding fluoridated water entirely including NAS panel member Robert Isaacson, PhD a distinguished professor of neurobehavioral science at the State University of New York and NAS panel member Hardy Limeback, DDS, PhD in biochemistry, associate professor of dentistry and head of the preventive dentistry program at the University. 

The NRC devoted a whole chapter on the brain in its 507-page 2006 review and concluded: "it is apparent that fluorides have the ability to interfere with the functions of the brain and the body by direct and indirect means."
Of the five IQ studies reviewed by the NRC the panel drew special attention to the study by Xiang et al. which they indicated had the strongest design. This study compared the intelligence of 512 children (ages 8-13) living in two villages with different fluoride concentrations in the water. The IQ test was administered in a double-blind manner. The high-fluoride area had a mean water concentration of 2.4mg/L and the low-fluoride area had a mean water concentration of 0.36mg/L. The conclusion of this study noted “The IQ scores in both males and females declined with increasing fluoride exposure." In summary, the NRC concluded that “the consistency of results from all five studies appears significant enough to warrant additional research on the effects of fluoride on intelligence."

Incredibly, no fluoridating country including Ireland has followed up on this. 

The IEB also decline to acknowledge that the NRC recommended further research be conducted on the effects of fluoride on the risk of bladder cancer, as well as thyroid, liver, kidney, pancreas, pineal and brain function in addition to fluoride’s possible association with nutritional deficiency with particular emphasis on fluoride’s impact on calcium metabolism. In fact the NRC and the European Union’s Scientific Committee on Health and Environmental Health (SCHER) listed over 50 additional epidemiology, toxicology, clinical medicine and environmental exposure assessments required to be undertaken on fluoride. 

Astonishingly not one of these studies has ever been undertaken in Ireland, the only country in Europe and one of only two such countries in the world to maintain a national legislative policy to inject fluoride compounds into public water supplies.  This should be of the utmost importance, given that the All Ireland Cancer Atlas 1995-2007 demonstrates that the prevalence of cancer diseases is considerably higher in the Republic of Ireland, compared to non fluoridated Northern Ireland; as is osteoporosis, a debilitating medical condition that affects over 300,000 people in the Republic, which is double the prevalence found in Northern Ireland or the UK, and acknowledging that a great deal of information is now available internationally linking fluoride exposure with osteoporosis and hip fracture in the elderly.

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