A few weeks ago, Willamette Week’s lead story, “What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You,” featured Project Censored, highlighting important stories the media didn’t cover.
The headline lends itself perfectly to another story ignored by U.S. newspapers: higher fluoride levels in pregnant women have been linked to lower IQ’s in their children. The levels were well within the range of American women drinking fluoridated water.
This was the finding of a major international study published last month, funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health and led by the University of Toronto school of public health.
The study, one of the most robust ever conducted on fluoride’s risks, followed mother-child pairs in Mexico City for over 12 years. For every 0.5 part per million increase in prenatal exposure, children lost 2.5 – 3 IQ points. While noting the study didn’t prove fluoridation lowered children’s IQ’s and more research was needed, the authors cited its strong methodology, including taking into account a dozen possible confounding factors, which didn’t affect the results.
As detailed in my Lund Report article, the latest study continues the trend of nearly 200 others in just the past ten years on fluoride’s neurotoxicity. Almost all found fluoride harmed the brain, many at levels at or slightly higher than water fluoridation.
There’s no doubt ingested fluoride is neurotoxic. The only questions are the dose, when and how often the exposure occurs, and which individuals – born and unborn - are more susceptible to its toxicity. Once fluoride is added to drinking water, there’s no control over any of these.
Last year, the Fluoride Action Network, American Academy of Environmental Medicine, International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology, Food and Water Watch, Organic Consumers Association and several others petitioned the EPA to ban fluoridation chemicals based on their neurotoxicity.
Despite the significant, one-sided scientific evidence, the EPA denied the petition, saying it wasn’t conclusive. In response, the organizations filed a lawsuit in federal court, where a decision on the EPA’s motion to dismiss the case is due in a few months.
The American Dental Association, the leading pro-fluoridation group, claimed that the study doesn’t apply to fluoridated water in the U.S. Lead author Dr. Howard Hu saw it differently, asserting “This is a very rigorous epidemiology study. You just can’t deny it. It’s directly related to whether fluoride is a risk for the neurodevelopment of children. So, to say it has no relevance to the folks in the U.S. seems disingenuous.”
Many others unaffiliated with the study agreed with Hu, including Dr. Linda Birnbaum, director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, who said “we should pay attention to this” Dr. Leonardo Trasande, a pediatrician at NYU, stated it “raises serious concerns about fluoride supplementation in water."
CNN, Newsweek, Medical News Today, Medical Express and even the Reader’s Digest covered the story, as did many media outlets In Canada.
In light of these developments, I asked the four largest general audience newspapers in Portland, the Oregonian, Portland Tribune, Willamette Week and Portland Mercury, to do the same. I thought this would be newsworthy, especially considering Portland’s 2012-13 rip-roaring fluoridation battle that generated hundreds of articles and major TV and radio coverage.
Local editors felt differently. All four declined or didn’t return messages.
Perhaps unpleasant memories were part of the reason. All had concluded the practice was safe and wrote pro-fluoridation editorials, but Portlanders emphatically rejected it 61% - 39%.
A Harvard review had just been published finding children, mostly in China, exposed to higher fluoride levels had lower IQ’s in 26 out of 27 studies. World-renowned scientist Philippe Grandjean, one of the co-authors, said that while the study wasn’t conclusive and more research was needed, “Fluoride seems to fit in with lead, mercury, and other poisons that cause chemical brain drain.” But Willamette Week and the Mercury concluded it had no relevance to fluoridation.
The Oregonian was especially dismissive, unleashing seven editorials, plus an editorial cartoon depicting fluoridation opponents as a toothless rabble in front of city hall. It branded claims that fluoridation could harm kids’ brains, lower IQ’s and cause other health problems as “crackpottery.” (I didn’t even know such a word existed.)
Today, it’s interesting what the Oregonian does think is newsworthy. Recent health articles covered early detection of ovarian cancer, standing desks that helped students lose weight and how staying away from cell phones helps decision-making.
These stories all had merit – they’re relevant and interesting. So was another recommending that parents take their babies to a dentist. This begs two questions:
Isn’t preventing the potential loss of a child’s intelligence as newsworthy as preventing a cavity?
Even more important, pregnant women drinking fluoridated water are, in effect, part of a continuing experiment testing the risk of brain damage in their children – without their consent. How is this ethical?
It’s a big experiment. Although most countries reject fluoridation, nearly 75% of the U.S. population has it, including 38 towns in Oregon, Albany, Beaverton, Corvallis and Salem among them.
How many studies showing serious harm will it take before the sacred cow of fluoridation is put out to pasture for good?
I don’t know, but one thing’s for sure – you have to know about them first.
NOTE: For further information on fluoride and neurotoxicity, compare the websites of the two leading organizations on opposite sides of the issue.
The American Dental Association’s “premier resource on community water fluoridation” is Fluoridation Facts. Its section on neurotoxicity is less than one page, mainly dealing with one study from 1995. The few citations are all more than 20 years old.
Fluoride Action Network has dozens of articles, videos and an interview with the very scientist who did the study cited by ADA. Its research section for professionals, one of the largest depositories in the world, has abstracts of 368 studies on neurotoxicity alone.
You can decide for yourself which organization has more knowledge and credibility on the subject.
By Rick North
Oct. 27, 2017
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