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Making Sense of Fluoride

Scientists are dismissing claims that fluoride will be removed from New Zealand's water supplies within the next two years following a series of lectures by Dr. Paul Connett, executive director of the Fluoridation Action Network, that begin in Wellington tomorrow.

Making Sense of Fluoride spokesperson, Dr. Ken Perrott said "Connett is substituting wishes for reality and using unsubstantiated studies to fuel his argument."

Dr Connett is ignoring the results of recent referenda showing a large groundswell of support for fluoridation of community water supplies as a social health measure.

This one-sided approach is typical of Dr. Connett, who often cherry-picks studies to fit his bias and ignores, or downplays those who contradict his opinions said Dr. Perrott.

In a recent online debate between the two, Dr. Connett claimed that fluoridation lowers IQ, causes cancer and many other illnesses. It also considered his claim that fluoridation is ineffective in reducing tooth decay.

"Dr Connett's activist organisation FAN searches intensively for any scientific reports that can be interpreted as critical of fluoride. Consequently he relies on research that is often poorly done and reported in unknown foreign language newsletters or journals well out of the mainstream scientific literature."

The claims of effect on IQ are based mainly on poorly executed Chinese research that ignored confounding influences of parental education, breast feeding and heavy metal contamination - all known to influence IQ.

Dr Connett uses a single study based on poor evidence of fluoride intake for his cancer claim while ignoring more recent, larger studies showing no effect of fluoride on cancer incidence.

Connett takes a similar selective approach in his claim of fluoride causing hip fractures - ignoring recent studies showing no effect at normal concentrations used in drinking water fluoridation.

"The scientific research on fluoridation is extensive and complex," said Dr Perrott.

"It must be approached critically and intelligently and unfortunately Dr Connett's approach is selective. His anti-fluoridation bias leads him to overlook important factors like the fluoride concentration used in animal studies, the importance of confounding factors and the quality of the research itself."

The Making Sense of Fluoride group was formed recently to help counter misinformation on fluoride being promoted by activist groups such Dr Connett's FAN in an attempt to encourage the public to think critically about scientific claims being made by radical groups.


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