Harvard Professor speaks strongly against fluoride

After considering the evidence, Daniel M. Merfeld, Ph.D. Professor of Otology and Laryngology at Harvard Medical School states that fluoridation is ineffective...

A leading U.S. medical academic has come out strongly against fluoridation of drinking water. Daniel M. Merfeld, Ph.D. Professor of Otology and Laryngology at Harvard Medical School, is the latest influential medical professional to openly oppose fluoridation. Over the past four issues of the magazine, Hot Press has been investigating Ireland's policy of mandatory fluoridation. Professor Merfeld in effect endorses the views expressed in Hot Press by critics of fluoridation, including the scientist Declan Waugh. "Most European countries do not fluoridate their water, because such mass medication is considered ineffective and unethical," he states.

Having looked at all the evidence in great detail, Professor Merfeld confirms the view of fluoridation as "mass medication" and outlines why he opposes mandatory fluoridation.

"There are," he says, "three indisputable facts with regards to fluoridation:

1) "Fluoridation provides an uncontrolled fluoride dose.

2) "Fluoridation began before research showed that fluoride’s benefits were due to topical application not ingestion.

3) "Fluoridation began before all its side effects were known. When water is fluoridated, the dose is uncontrolled as the amount ingested varies with water intake. Can you imagine your health care professional telling you to just put your prescription drugs in your water, ingest the drugged water when you are thirsty, and go ahead and share your drugged water with others? Of course not! In fact, most European countries do not fluoridate their water, because such mass medication is considered ineffective and unethical."

In his detailed analysis, Dr. Merfeld states that fluoridating water appears neither necessary nor effective.

"The Oral Health Division of the Center of Disease Control (CDC) acknowledges that fluoride’s benefit comes from topical contact. Brushing your teeth with a toothpaste containing fluoride is the most common topical application.

"Swallowing fluoride provides no known benefits," he adds. "An article in the Journal of the American Dental Association (ADA) indicates no known benefit before the teeth emerge, when topical contact with fluoride becomes possible. So why do some think that fluoridation is effective? The answer appears straightforward – cavity rates decreased and dental health improved after fluoridation began. But better dental care has improved dental health and reduced the number of cavities everywhere, even in communities without fluoride.

"In fact," the professor states, "research shows no significant difference in the number of cavities for US communities with and without fluoride in the drinking water. As another example, the vast majority of West European countries do not fluoridate; yet the dental health of Western Europe is no worse than for US communities that fluoridate.”

Professor Merfeld also deals with the ethical issue, and how the chemical is known to cause dental fluorosis.

"It is accepted that fluoridation causes severe problems for some individuals," he points out. "Kidney patients are told to avoid fluoride, and the CDC recommends that bottled water with less fluoride be used when mixing infant formula. Furthermore, fluoride is known to cause dental fluorosis (a developmental disruption of dental enamel that yields tooth discoloration) in millions of children. Finally, while not yet conclusive, there is a growing body of peer-reviewed research, including a very recent publication by colleagues at the Harvard School of Public Health, that links higher levels of fluoride in children’s drinking water with reduced IQ.”

Another point that Professor Merfeld addresses is that fluoridating water imposes the uncontrolled delivery of a drug on citizens.

"If you want to ingest fluoride, you can get fluoride tablets from your pharmacy, but you will need a prescription," he says. "Fluoride is not an essential nutrient. It is a medication that the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) regulates as a drug. If you read the fluoride tablet page in the online Physicians’ Desktop Reference for Consumers, it notes, 'This drug has not been found by FDA to be safe and effective'. Yet fluoride is mass distributed via water.” (Our emphasis)

Across the world, opposition to fluoridation is growing, and Professor Merfeld makes it absolutely clear that this must be taken seriously by the relevant authorities.

"About 70 communities (in the US) have rejected fluoridation since 2010. Civil rights leaders oppose fluoridation because its negative side effects disproportionately impact poor communities. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Headquarters Professionals’ Union, which represents knowledgeable scientists, lawyers, and other environmental professionals, opposes fluoridation. Many scientists, including Nobel Prize winners, oppose fluoridation. Finally, the US National Research Council of the National Academies published a comprehensive review in 2006 that concluded that the current EPA standard was not adequately protecting health and, based on the available evidence at that time, recommended that the maximum contaminant level for fluoride be lowered. This recommendation placed the maximum contaminant level near the level provided via fluoridation.”

The campaign against fluoridation of the water supply in Ireland is gathering momentum. Hot Press writer Adrienne Murphy, who has carried out the Hot Press investigation into fluoridation yesterday appeared on the Today programme on RTE, emphasising the importance of the 27 Questions which Hot Press has asked of the Minister in charge of fluoridation policy, Alex White. Hot Press is currently awaiting answers from the Minister.

"After considering a great deal of evidence, the benefits of fluoridation do not seem to justify the risks. This is my personal decision," declares Merfeld, before concluding:

"If you decide fluoride is right for your family, I suggest that you consider a topical application by using toothpaste with fluoride. You can even choose to swallow toothpaste, but due to the fluoride content that is not recommended. Given this, does it make sense to swallow water with fluoride? Nonetheless, if you decide that ingesting fluoride is right for you, I respect your decision. Each of us regularly makes personal health decisions, often in consultation with health-care providers, without impacting others. This provides an ethical approach for fluoride as well. Why force fluoride on anyone, especially those who are sensitive to its side effects?"

Read Merfeld's entire argument, here.

There is further debate, expert international views and coverage in the latest issue of Hot Press available, in shops now. Click to order this issue.


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