Reuters reprints a press release from a scare group misrepresenting research about fluoride.
Harvard Study Finds Fluoride Lowers IQ – Published in Federal Gov’t Journal
Harvard University researchers’ review of fluoride/brain studies concludes “our results support the possibility of adverse effects of fluoride exposures on children’s neurodevelopment.” It was published online July 20 in Environmental Health Perspectives, a US National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences’ journal, reports the NYS Coalition Opposed to Fluoridation, Inc. (NYSCOF)
“The children in high fluoride areas had significantly lower IQ than those who lived in low fluoride areas,” write Choi et al.
Further, the EPA says fluoride is a chemical “with substantial evidence of developmental neurotoxicity.”
Fluoride (fluosilicic acid) is added to US water supplies at approximately 1 part per million attempting to reduce tooth decay.
“It’s senseless to keep subjecting our children to this ongoing fluoridation experiment to satisfy the political agenda of special-interest groups,” says attorney Paul Beeber, NYSCOF President. “Even if fluoridation reduced cavities, is tooth health more important than brain health? It’s time to put politics aside and stop artificial fluoridation everywhere,” says Beeber.
When we find an utter piece of crap evidence, we must call it out for what it is – an deceptive, biased piece of garbage that you should NOT believe.
Here’s why. Let me run down the red flags:
This is a press release by an advocacy group. I do not approve of the practice of newspapers running PRs without context or commentary. This is not journalism but the public finds it very difficult to tell the difference. Reuters (and others) are irresponsible to do this.
The advocacy group, NYS Coalition Opposed to Fluoridation, Inc. (NYSCOF), is opposed to fluoride supplements in water. They have cherry picked out of this Harvard report only what they wanted and misrepresented it. While there is a chance that their conclusion, fluoride=bad, may be true, this roundabout, manufactured way of showing your point is disingenuous.
The research was a review of existing studies, it is not a new study.
The studies were from “high fluoride level” areas, not areas that have supplemented fluoride. High Fl can occur naturally. (So can arsenic and other contaminants.) Not all well water is safe, even if it’s “natural”.
The fluoride limits listed are WAY above those recommended to prevent tooth decay in the U.S. We already know too much fluoride is bad. No one is advocating excessive fluoride, just the optimum amount.
The press release misrepresents the EPA statement. They also list other possible carcinogens we know and love that, in excessive levels, are harmful. Nothing new here but it’s sneaky.
The studies in this meta-analysis (combining data from several studies) may not have adequately accounting for other potentially harmful pollutants in the water that could cause lowered IQ.
The original studies were correlation studies, not causational. They did not show that high fluoride caused low IQ. Yet, that is exactly the picture this NYSCOF group hopes you will take away.
Here is the original research they are basing it on. Yes, they include the link, hoping you don’t go read it and understand the spin they put on it.
We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of published studies to investigate the effects of increased fluoride exposure and delayed neurobehavioral development.
The results support the possibility of an adverse effect of high fluoride exposure on children’s neurodevelopment. Future research should include detailed individual-level information on prenatal exposure, neurobehavioral performance, and covariates for adjustment.
UPDATE: (1-Aug-2012) This post has solicited some anti-fluoride proponents who violate the comment policy with long ranty posts include allegations taken out of context and even including some conspiracy theories. I have not been allowing comments by two particular posters because this is not a debate forum. If you wish to add more on this topic, keep it concise, include the best sources, not a long rambling list of links no one will click on, and state your case with established knowledge, not speculation. The point of the above article linked was two-fold. One, it was about fluoride but, two, it was about the poor media coverage that allowed a press release to be seen as important news especially in light of the misrepresentation of a scientific study. Once again, this is not a free-for-all forum to debate fluoridation with NON-rational methods.
The same topic has been covered at Science Based medicine by Steve Novella: Antifluoridation Bad Science. It expands on the issues we brought up above. I suggest you check it out. And remember, I moderate comments. So, in order to get yours through, I suggest you be moderate as well. Thanks for participating in this discussion, everyone.