For today’s bulletin Chris Neurath, Fluoride Action Network (FAN’s) Research Director, will explain why he joined the fluoride-free movement. We first distributed this in a bulletin in 2013, in this re-issue Chris has included an update to include Boradbent’s IQ study from NZ. The quote we have used for this bulletin Fluoride Science is Tobacco Science, comes from another Chris, Chris Bryson, author of The Fluoride Deception. The full quote is:
Chris Bryson issued these words in the videotaped interview I had with him in June 2004, shortly after his book was published.
A Personal Journey: Realizing Fluoride Science is Tobacco Science
By Chris Neurath
I was raised by my parents to believe fluoride and fluoridation were wonderful, progressive things. Before fluoridated toothpaste was available, and before our tap water was fluoridated, my father brought home bottles of fluoride drops from the pharmacy. My brothers and I were supposed to put it in orange juice every day. I remember wondering why we were given something from a bottle with a huge skull and crossbones on it. I don’t remember my parent’s explanations, but I’m sure I trusted them on this.
In hindsight, I’m glad I didn’t like orange juice so I only occasionally took the fluoride. I had no cavities growing up, in contrast to the mouthfuls of both my parents, and I always attributed this to the fluoride drops. Our family dentist encouraged this belief. Little did I know that in my generation we all had fewer cavities than our parents, regardless of whether we ingested fluoride or not.
It wasn’t until sometime in my 30s that I ever came across anyone who openly questioned fluoridation. He was a genial older man who suddenly became argumentative when the subject somehow arose and I claimed my lack of cavities was living proof that fluoride worked. I dismissed him as a crank. Not until years later did I realize I might have been the uninformed person.
When I first met Paul and Ellen Connett (in the 1980s) they were working on trash incinerators, not fluoride. I worked on this and several other environmental issues for many years with them. Paul and Ellen are both naturally talented at seeing through the lies and spin that poison so many environmental health issues. I was trained as a scientist, but it took me a while to realize how much science gets twisted when a vested interest is at stake. But even with my developing suspicion of manipulated science, I was stunned to read an investigative article on the dark history of fluoridation, first published by the Connetts in their tiny circulation environmental newsletter Waste Not. The Christian Science Monitor had so shortened the commissioned story by authors Chris Bryson and Joel Griffiths, that they looked elsewhere for a publisher. But no mainstream media would touch it, and eventually they gave it the Connetts to circulate so their effort would not be wasted.
The Bryson/Griffith article tied the early promotion of fluoridation to the development of the atomic bomb. One memorable personal incident from my youth was probably what kept me from dismissing Bryson’s work as an outrageous “conspiracy theory.”
Back in high school, we got a reprieve from my chemistry class one day, to see a special presentation by a traveling “lecturer” from the Atomic Energy Commission, given to the entire school. He started out by tossing three whiffle balls into the audience, one of which chanced to go straight to me. He then asked the catchers of the balls to join him on stage. Once there, he announced that one of the balls was radioactive, whereupon the kid next to me dropped his like a hot potato. Being by nature more reserved, I just stood there waiting to find out what would happen next. The presenter singled me out to stay on stage as a “volunteer.” He then offered me a bottle of Coca-cola and asked me to drink some, after which he announced it had been spiked with radioactive iodine. He held his impressive looking Geiger counter at my neck, near my thyroid, and the clicking went crazy. This entire “stunt” was framed to demonstrate how harmless radiation really was. Although I was not at all happy with what went on, I came away, as did most of the kids in the audience, assuming that radiation really was something that could be “fun” to play with, and not that threatening.
That subliminal message stuck with me for years … until I chanced to run into the brainiest kid from my high school, who was then studying physics at MIT. Somehow that presentation on atomic energy came up and he said he had been asked to help the presenter behind the scenes … and he knew what had really gone on. The stunts with radioactivity were all faked. The presenter’s Geiger counter had a tiny radioactive collar, which he could slip back and forth over the detector to make it click at will. There was no radioactive whiffle ball, and no radioactive Coke. I was stunned to realize our government lies – intentionally – to deceive school children. In particular, about the safety of radiation and atomic energy.
The almost unbelievable revelations in the Bryson/Griffith article finally got me to seriously question my previous faith in fluoridation. But I can understand why most Americans still believe what they were told time and again as children … that fluoridation is wonderful and anyone who questions it is crazy. For several more years I was still wary of joining the Connetts’ campaign on fluoridation. But then I started delving into the science myself.
The first dip I took was when Paul asked me to review the seminal reports of the first fluoridation “community trials” in the US, from the 1940s. I couldn’t believe the shoddiness of these studies. Promoters of fluoridation are keen to dismiss any findings of harm from fluoride and fluoridation as “junk science” but if you really want to see “junk science” in action read these early trials.
But I was still wary of getting involved in the issue. Then Paul asked me to look into some of the cancer studies. Having investigated other environmental causes of cancer I had a special interest in this field, so I accepted. The Yiamouyiannis/Burk work was intriguing, but not fully convincing to me. Then a member of the National Research Council (NRC) committee reviewing fluoride suggested I look at a much more recent case-control study on fluoride and bone cancer by Kitty Gelberg. I started wading through the 400-page dissertation as well as her published paper, and realized there were gross errors in both. For example, Gelberg had somehow confused the males with the females! She had never caught this error and neither had the peer reviewers or any readers. In several key tables, she confused cases with controls, which is an even more fundamental error than switching males with females. There were other errors and many questionable interpretations. Gelberg concluded there was no link between fluoride and osteosarcoma, but buried in her study I saw evidence that suggested otherwise. I called Gelberg to try to straighten out the errors and to ask about some of the interpretations. She claimed that it was the first she had ever heard about the possibility of errors in the 10 years since her work had been published. After grudgingly admitting the errors, she broke off any communication. My respect for “fluoridation science” dropped to a new low. Gelberg works as an epidemiologist for the New York State Department of Health, which happens to be one of the leading promoters of fluoridation in the US. It was a disappointing revelation that public servants can stonewall and ignore inquiries from the public.
About the same time as this Gelberg experience, in 2005, FAN was tipped off to the existence of Elise Bassin’s Harvard doctoral dissertation on fluoride and osteosarcoma. This study had been completed four years previously but had been so effectively buried that it was unknown even to the expert NRC panel doing an exhaustive review of fluoride toxicology. Michael Connett went to Harvard to read the only “public” copy available anywhere, but was only allowed to photocopy a limited portion of it. His initial impression was this was a very important study. I made an appointment to see it myself. I was stunned by what I read. Bassin’s high quality study had found a very strong link between fluoride exposure between ages 6-8, and later developing osteosarcoma. I was equally shocked by the fact that this work had been hidden from the public for four years while Bassin’s faculty advisor, Chester Douglass, who ran the study, went around the world, saying his research had found no link between fluoride and osteosarcoma, even though he had signed Bassin’s thesis.
Reading the Bassin dissertation, deep in the bowels of Harvard’s Medical Library, was the turning point for me on fluoride. Here was clear evidence that the fluoride added to 2/3rds of American’s drinking water may be causing a frequently fatal form of cancer. This study isn’t enough to “prove” fluoride causes cancer, but the fact that it had been hidden from the public and scientific community was proof for me that, in Chris Bryson’s words: “fluoride science is tobacco science”.