Commercial and ideological support of anti-fluoride activity

Fluoride Free NZ (FFNZ) promotes a list of “NZ Health Professionals who are calling for an end to fluoridation.” I am generally cynical about such endorsement lists, but the details in this list do give a picture of the commercial and ideological alignment of the FFNZ supporters and activists. So I did my own analysis, dividing the list into those described as “Science and Environmental PhD Professionals”, “NZ Dentists, “NZ Doctors” and Alternative health professionals (Chiropractors, naturopaths, Homeopaths, etc.).

Of course, this is approximate as, for example, some listed as doctors may have specialised in one or another alternative fields. The pie chart below shows the distribution of FFNZ supporters among these groups.

Clearly with such a large proportion of supporters coming from alternative health fields this above distribution is not representative of professionals in general, let alone health professionals. However, anyone who has looked at the anti-fluoride movement or debated with anti-fluoride activists would not be surprised as “natural”/alternative health arguments and sources are frequently used.

I wonder, though, to what extent local body councillors are aware of this commercial and ideological orientation when considering submissions they get on the fluoridation issue. I suspect they aren’t. Yet groups like FFNZ engineer these submissions from their supporters – often providing templates for individuals to sign – and usually dominate the submission process.

Personally I think this is a defect in our system of representative democracy – councils should actually insist on declarations of conflict of interest, details of employment and commercial interests from submitters. Their failure to do this explains how some local bodies, like the Hamilton City Council, have unwittingly been captured by ideological and commercial interests from the “natural”/alternative health industry during such submission processes.

Financial links

Declaration of conflicts of interest and details of employment, etc., may to some extent help identify big business interests financing this sort of submission in future. At the moment, we are largely left to speculate. However, there are financial data available showing the money trail involved in at least one anti-fluoride campaign – the High Court case against  the South Taranaki District Council aiming for a judicial review of a decision to fluoridate water supplies in Patea and Waverley (see Who is funding anti-fluoridation High Court action? and Corporate backers of anti-fluoride movement lose in NZ High Court).

This action was taken by New Health NZ – an incorporated body set up by the NZ Health Trust – In November 2013. Statements of financial performance of these two organisations are available online and show the following movements of large amounts of money during the year to March 2014. NZHT As the NZ health Trust is a lobby group for the “natural”/alternative health industry the grants it receives must come out of the profits of this industry which is actually a big business in New Zealand. Although the financial statements do not identify sources and recipients the $100,00 grant to New Health NZ clearly came from its parent body and is included in their declared $125,ooo grants and donations.

The $95,156 paid out by New Health NZ in professional and consulting fees would have covered the costs involved in their High Court action. So this is a clear example of pretty direct funding of anti-fluoride activity (the High Court action) by corporate interests – the “natural”/alternative health industry.

But none of the reporting of this High Court action identified the commercial interests involved. Readers were given the impression that New Health NZ was just another one of these anti-fluoride activist groups and possibly assumed funds for the legal action came from donations.

Again, this is a flaw in our representative democratic system. There should be more transparency of financial links. Corporate interests should not be able to hide behind astroturf organisations and the dishonesty that their actions are the result of concerned citizens and not the ideological and commercial interests of big business.

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35 responses to “Commercial and ideological support of anti-fluoride activity

  1. So much for the anti fluoride/vaccine war cry “Follow the money.” seems you have and its a bit close to home. “Big Pharmo’ is right there with the chequebook

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  2. 16 out of 2500 is definitely fringe only.

    There are over 2500 dentists registered in New Zealand. I am one of them, I support fluoridation of public water supplies at 1ppm and made a submission last year, in person, to my local authority to tell them so.

    I went to a lecture by a visiting dental researcher, he gave us detailed results of recent research showing the effectiveness and safety of fluoride. One of the dentists who is in that list sat in the row in front of me, he had plenty of opportunities to ask questions, he said nothing. I was surprised. This anti-fluoride dentist is clearly quite happy to speak out around uninformed people, but appears to be too scared to challenge someone who knows the science.

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  3. Dental injuries from sports cost ACC some $1.4million annually. Some of it will be those bad people who did not wear a mouth guard, just like some people do not use fluoridated toothpaste twice daily.

    I see it frequently written that fluoride toothpaste use reduces tooth decay, but I cannot find much comparing fluoride free toothpaste to fluoride toothpaste, so the studies may just be about cleaning the food off teeth and exposing them to saliva.

    So it may be wrong to enforce twice daily use of fluoride toothpaste in boarding schools for example, the way use of mouth guards are supposed to be enforced, until we see the research that it is significantly better.

    Looking at this (in an artificial situation) fluoride toothpaste was scarcely better:
    http://europepmc.org/abstract/med/16508273
    A fluoride gel helped protect teeth from acid attack if they had been brushed.

    They were being kept in saliva in between the challenges and I would like to see data on brushing the food from teeth after eating to allow saliva to get to their surfaces, with fluoride vs fluoride-free toothpaste, but with similar minerals, not abrasive hopefully.

    I note the miswak stick is good to reduce DMFT but need data to know if that is because of removing food from the teeth and stopping gum infection and allowing saliva on to the teeth, vs some antibacterial qualities of miswak.

    Then when that is all exposed compulsory water fluoridation could be better compared, and the decision made to study further whether it is a saliva-stimlulating effect of fluoride in water, through suppression of acetlycholinesterase, and whether better compulsory salivary stimulants might be used. For example should gum chewing continue to be forbidden in school lessons?

    MSOF wants better teeth and is looking outside fluoridation to sugar tax. So please broaden the horizon.

    Brian Sandle

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  4. Wee bit hypocritical, Brian. To suggest I need to “broaden the horizon” when yours is so narrow you cannot expand it to comment on the actual post but resort to cherry picking sole papers to confirm you bias.

    Are you afraid to closer the commercial and ideological biases driving your bias?🙂

    >

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  5. Sometimes ideological things are set aside too easily. For example miswak is in the Hadiths. But it has been set aside in Riyadh and the teeth are bad there.

    I can’t find papers to cherry pick from. Show me some others. Until you can I feel a lot in the fluoridation push to be ideological. I bet you will offer ecological studies unlike the one I cited. You won’t be able to show much verified mechanism? I fear you may just be repeating stuff so people begin to believe it without thinking.

    What real concentration of calcium hydroxyapatite, magnesium compounds and fluoride is need in saliva to build a resistant tooth surface? Not much fluoride but definitely saliva has to be there. And it has to get to the tough multilayer integument on the tooth surface which contains proteolytic organisms, as suggested by Dunedin former dentist Donald B Ritchie. Why the silence on his research? Quite possibly ideological and not research-based. Designed to produce of bit of tooth benefit but not too much.

    Brian Sandle

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  6. Brian, you “can’t find papers to cherry pick from” but you cited a very much cherry picked paper. No, I won’t offer you ecological studies so you have lost that bet.

    There are published laboratory studies of the mechanism underlying the protective role of fluoride but I guess your bias will prevent you from finding them. As I keep saying, one must approach the literature critically and intelligently. This means not stopping once you confirmation bias is satisfied but considering all the candidate papers on the subject.

    Meanwhile, you clearly have been unable to expand your horizon enough to engage with the topic of the post. Perhaps because of your own commercial and ideological commitments?

    >

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  7. Thanks Ken, I added “in the tooth surface” to your suggested search. The second result which is the first journal article is this which is going to take a bit to go through. http://jada.ada.org/article/S0002-8177%2814%2963879-4/fulltext
    I see I am wrong that Ritchie’s work has not been continued. It contains another word, “pellicle,” which Ritchie used, but Ritchie has not been cited. This work talks of bacteriocides, however, in addtion to Ritchie’s principles, which will require some thought.
    http://www.worldcat.org/title/factors-in-tooth-stabilisation-the-halfway-bush-study-dunedin-new-zealand/oclc/152501267
    so, Ken though you write: “Brian, you “can’t find papers to cherry pick from” but you cited a very much cherry picked paper.” this next study on fluoride and the tooth surface backs it up. Do you call it cherry picking when I spent a long time searching for comparison of fluoride free and fluoride toothpaste effects and cited the first one I came across?

    Your article is trying to set aside “alternative” health workers and Ritchie, with his tooth remineralisation formula was probably considered to be such.

    It is hard for “alternative” stuff to get past what may be a selection bias, so they need to find other ways of getting their info out.

    Brian Sandle

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  8. Brian, I recognise comprehension is not your strong point, especially when your bias gets in the way. Perhaps you should read my post again.

    My article showed the relative domination of certain ideological and commercial interests in the anti-fluoride movement. I was not trying to “put aside” alternative health workers in this article and I did not mention Ritchie at all. I was purely putting the case that local bodies are being undemocratic when they do not insist on declarations of conflict of interest or consider the distortions inherent in the submission process. This was blatantly obvious in the Hamilton City Council consultation and led to their having to reverse a decision made against the interests and opinions of their voters.

    Cherry-Pickers usually do choose the first article they find confirming their bias. But that is a diversion from the discussion of my article.

    >

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  9. Ken you wrote: “Cherry-Pickers usually do choose the first article they find confirming their bias.” Which is not what I did. I used the first article comparing the two types of toothpaste.

    Ritchie may not be always correct. He said, speaking of tooth pellicle abrasion and loss of repair power, that it says in the Koran that young children should not use a tooth brush. However I could not find that. But I did find the Hadith stuff.

    And it looks now that Ritchie’s work is coming into conventional. He did the Half Way Bush write up in 1978. I started talking about his work on google group sci.med.dentistry in 1994 not long after I got a modem. And I see the references in Garcia-Godoy and Hicks start about 1999.

    The furthering of the miswak stick to clean teeth (rather than abrasive toothpaste as it happens) you might call ideological as it is based on a Hadith, a saying of Muhuammad. Modern western dental science in the Muslim city Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, has overturned that ideological approach and tooth health has deteriorated. The huge backup of the Muslims has been turned back.

    *Maybe* we will find a connection of “*New* Health” and its funding to the “*New* Life” Pentecostal Churches’ congregation, and support coming through from them. Pure water is a very important concept in the Bible. That ideology may be turned back but will it be an improvement, as what has happened in Riyadh does not appear to be? That is just one thought. Something like that may be happening though not in that exact framework.

    Brian Sandle

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  10. chris price wrote: :”So much for the anti fluoride/vaccine war cry “Follow the money.” seems you have and its a bit close to home. “Big Pharmo’ is right there with the chequebook”

    chris it is not sure what you mean there.

    The general “herd immunity” tale put out may be rather faulty in many cases, so it is not clear whether some forces are trying to further a commercial *ideology*:

    http://thinkingmomsrevolution.com/an-open-letter-to-legislators-currently-considering-vaccine-legislation-from-tetyana-obukhanych-phd-in-immunology/

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  11. Soundhill1
    if you went to some of the comment sites you would know. The anti fluoride/vaccine lot are quick to come out with the comment about anyone putting up quality arguments .They are getting paid by “Big Pharmo” And ‘Follow the money” to post any supportive comments.

    Well to me is seems Ken has put that comment to bed, good and proper, with the Big money coming from there own supporters to promote the scaremongering tactics.

    Its worth noting that in 70 years the anti fluoride/vaccine lot ,with all the money being made by the Natural Health Coalition{ $32billion ,last year in the USA } They still cant find any proof the fluoride at .7-1PPM is a danger to human health.
    Mind the ongoing search keeps the Connett family comfortable, and funds them to come down south on vacation for the northern winter

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  12. chris price: “They still cant find any proof the fluoride at .7-1PPM is a danger to human health.”

    Actually “they” do warn that fluoride-supplemented infant formula can produce excess when made up with fluoridated water. “They” also warn about kidney dialysis with fluoridated water.

    And on the FSANZ Facebook page I have put a caution about excessive thirst in some pregnancies and getting the fluoridation level correct. My post has not been replied to in the normal prompt way.

    They have not claimed no trouble is possible.

    The single study (by Broadbent) acknowledged by some to show no connection of fluoridation to IQ deficit is an “ecological” study.

    My little studies about reduced football performance from fluoridated areas have had about one response, that from Steve Slott, dentist, who says he does not want to hear about it.

    The Royal Society review does not comment on the acetylcholinesterase matter.

    Brian Sandle

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  13. Monitoring of fluoride intake and avoidance of
    fluoride-rich substances would be prudent for
    people with stage 4 or 5 CKD, in addition to
    regular investigations for possible signs of fluorosis
    # Fluoride concentrations in the final feed water to
    the dialysis machine must comply with established
    water quality guidelines.
    Conflict of interest statement. None declared.
    Effects of fluoridation of community water supplies for people with
    chronic kidney disease
    Marie Ludlow, Grant Luxton and Timothy Mathew
    So if it is within water quality guidelines no danger

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  14. Brian, you are being disingenuous again.

    There is in fact no study showing CWF is a danger to human health.

    You wave the recommendation made to parents who are concerned about the possibility of mild dental fluorosis as evidence of harm. It is not. It is purely a “peace of mind” recommendation. Anti-fluoride propagandists commonly distort that recommendation.

    Of course special recommendations are made for dialysis machines – but that is not a proof of danger to human health at all.

    Those “examples” of yours just reinforce the point Chris made that “They still can’t find any proof the fluoride at .7-1PPM is a danger to human health.”

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  15. @chris price those “guidelines” are the AAMI guidelines 0.2 mg/L. http://www.nwrenalnetwork.org/watermanual.pdf

    @Ken “danger to human health” . Are people on dialysis not humans?

    And as with cars, where safety features go wrong people can die.

    Brian Sandle

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  16. Brian, I think it is rather pathetic that you are unable to find anything to counter Chris’s assertion that there is no credible evidence for harmful effects from CWF.

    You have run away from the usual – IQ, ADHD, etc., etc. You have now run away from the dental fluorosis after my pointing out how you had distorting a “peace of mind” advice.

    CWF is not, at the moment, considered dangerous for people suffering CKD. The advice is:

    “There is no evidence that consumption of optimally fluoridated drinking water poses any health risks for people with CKD”

    True, there are standards in place for dialysis machines – referring to electrolytes in general. Problems with F have only been observed at high concentrations – for example when the deionizer had been exhausted.

    Dialysis is a special treatment and of course electrolyte concentrations have to be managed. But that is not proof of harm for CWF.

    But, I repeat, what a comedown. You have to resort to special medical treatment situations in an effort to find CWF harmful.

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  17. Ken I was responding about dialysis to chris price. He did not comment on my other assertions.

    And as to kidney work in general the National Kidney Foundation says there is limited research on fluoride and kidney disease. And the NZ Health Information Service does not see to have stats on kidney disease by DHB so I can’t study for myself. Talking about following the money there is more there about getting people to donate kidneys.

    you wrote: “There is no evidence that consumption of optimally fluoridated drinking water poses any health risks for people with CKD”

    But the National Kidney Foundation says: “The National Kidney Foundation has not issued specific recommendations regarding fluoride intake and kidney disease due to the limited available research on the topic.”

    No money in pushing for adequate research?

    I did refer to IQ at 10:08am.

    Brian Sandle

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  18. Brian, acknowledgement of limited research (which in itself implies there is an effort put into ongoing research) is not evidence of harm.

    You have failed to counter Chris’s claim with any evidence at all. Yet you have the naive cheek to assert that somehow research is not ongoing.

    Not at all impressed.

    >

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  19. the reason the N.K.F is not saying much is they have been threatened with legal action for supporting fluoride in the past by the Fluoride Action Network
    My answer to that is Now if the arguments against fluoride were so good , you would think they would stand up to public scrutiny on their own ,without legal help. If they have to take legal action to pass them, it is obvious they are not

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  20. Ken I have pointed out how it can be hard to get stuff published when it is not in line with the currently accepted bandwaggon. Ritchie published his own work after getting it checked by Univ Otago stats. Then it was 20 years before anyone else picked up on it.

    I do not think that suppression was at all impressive.

    Brian Sandle

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  21. Brian, your argument is that if a lazy person or one who just doesn’t have the evidence but want to claim their ideas are valid. The fact is there are a range of journals in any subject and it is impossible to suppress “unpopular” ideas. I know Grandjean’s journal would not publish my ideas because I am arguing against his chemical toxicity bias. But there are other journals that will. Welcome to the real world.

    It is hard to get published – it is meant to be. One needs to have evidence and good logic. Although there are crappy journals who will publish for a fee – in my view a form of corruption which lowers the standards of public research.

    I have no idea about your friend Ritchie but suspect poor quality evidence or other reasons for his inability to publish – if he has even tried.

    But this is pathetic. You have absolutely nothing to counter Chris’s claim that there is no credible evidence of harm from CWF so you pull this barrier to publication myth. Pathetic.

    >

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  22. Ken here is an article claiming that so many articles with negative results find it harder to get published that the positive results appear to be stronger than they really are.

    http://jpkc.hrbmu.edu.cn/lxbx/cankao/Publication%20bias%20in%20meta-analysis%20its%20causes%20and%20consequences.pdf

    Brian Sandle

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  23. Ritchie did get a letter published in “Nature” in 1961 about “Surface Enamel Magnesium and its Possible Relation to Incidence of Caries” http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v190/n4774/abs/190456b0.html

    Fluoridation often increases calcium as lime is added for pH adjustment. Not sure what happens to magnesium. But even the calcium from the water may have a tooth surface effect and studies of fluoridation’s benefit need to allow for that.

    Brian Sandle

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  24. So now it turns out Ritchie did get published. Typical of your falsifications on this issue to claim he couldn’t be!

    >

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  25. That was a letter from DB Ritchie about magnesium on the tooth surface in 1961 that was published, but his 1970s self publication involved the multilayer pellicle and its microbiology on the tooth surface and its damage by abrasive toothpaste with consequent tooth erosion in the acid fruit season, amongst other things. That may have been more challenging for reviewers.

    Brian Sandle

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  26. Or may not have been worthy of publication?

    >

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  27. Ken this is from another of his publications: I selected bits in 1999 and took the liberty of posting them on sci.med.dentistry. I don’t think I posted this on this group before. This has been written more for the general public. https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topicsearchin/sci.med.dentistry/pellicle$20AND$20layer$20AND$20quiz$20AND$20sandle/sci.med.dentistry/Dv2V3Kd5FrE

    Brian Sandle

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  28. You may have needed to click on the first article in that. Some dentists seemed quite interested and here is something else I adapted: https://groups.google.com/forum/#!searchin/sci.med.dentistry/pellicle$20layer$20quiz/sci.med.dentistry/Dv2V3Kd5FrE/_GmzeMhLSqgJ

    Brian Sandle

    Like

  29. Brian Sandle, at April 21, 2015 at 8:29 pm

    Not sure what happens to magnesium

    Can’t you just take a guess and argue ad nauseum by using more guesses to back the first one up?

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  30. Sounds like a winning strategy.

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  31. Richard if I take a guess there may be a little magnesium in the lime added to water to adjust the pH of it to make the fluoridation work properly. That magnesium needs to be accounted for in any study of tooth health. If studies have not accounted for it then they may be claiming benefit from fluoride which should actually be attributed to the magnesium.

    But it is just a guess. Are you familiar with the studies and can enlighten us?

    Brian Sandle

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  32. Wow, that reply makes me feel as if I won an angling competition.

    Now, please, nobody body tell me I was just shooting a fish in a barrel.

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  33. Richard Christie in this case they do not talk about the “fish” if you are talking about that, “magnesium”.

    https://www.waternz.org.nz/Folder?Action=View%20File&Folder_id=101&File=standard_for_the_supply_of_hydrated_lime_%20for_use_in_water_treatment.pdf

    Please do not confuse “magnesium” with “manganese”.

    I think they presume magnesium is not harmful to health regards 2.3.2

    Brian Sandle

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  34. Richard, those fish you are shooting are pretty slimy, aren’t they.

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  35. When you look at the comments soundhill1 does the usual antifluoride/vaccine activist trick.When pushed into a corner, change the subject

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