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View Diary: Who wants fluoride in their beer? (148 comments)

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  •  Presumes access to a good dentist, no? (8+ / 0-)

    That's roughly why fluoridation became a public health issue rather than a private health issue in the first plate.  I suggested above that it's less of a problem now: there's a salient argument over whether our current health situation (more widespread access to modern dentistry, fluoride toothpastes) has outstripped the need for a broad public policy.  

    I'm not equipped to answer that, but what I find less convincing are science-based arguments that inflate the evidence against it in ways that, were this a different issue, not many of us would be willing to weigh strongly in its disfavor.  It's not putting infants and compromised adults in danger: as per your links, it's putting them at risk of mild enamel fluorosis, or discoloration of the teeth.  It's not ruining numerous economies, whatever that means.  

    (I even scrolled through the massive scientific review that Clean Water Portland is using as the basis for its health claims.  Most of them, like the alleged claims about IQ, are far more tentative and unsure than what that website claims: they come from a handful of studies from China whose methodologies the reviewers were unable to verify.  Worse still, this is the conclusion of the review's summary:

    The committee's conclusions regarding the potential for adverse effects from fluoride at 2 to 4 mg/L in drinking water do not address the lower exposures commonly experienced by most U.S. citizens. Fluoridation is widely practiced in the United States to protect against the development of dental caries; fluoride is added to public water supplies at 0.7 to 1.2 mg/L. The charge to the committee did not include an examination of the benefits and risks that might occur at these lower concentrations of fluoride in drinking water.
    This does not speak well of Clean Water Portland's use of the data.  I'd even say it's damning.)

    Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

    by pico on Sat May 18, 2013 at 02:56:17 PM PDT

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    •  That is the issue. (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pgm 01, ZhenRen, 4Freedom, True North, Kevskos

      Instead of making actual medical care available the go for the half assed solution. A solution with no real evidence of working yet substantial evidence of harm.

      •  This is the issue: (5+ / 0-)
        A solution with no real evidence of working yet substantial evidence of harm.
        That is the exact opposite of what the research says.  You can make the argument against fluoridation on various terms, but the reason I keep objecting your version of the science is that there is 1. significant evidence of working and 2. very little evidence of harm.  So I find this direction very unconvincing.

        Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

        by pico on Sat May 18, 2013 at 03:09:52 PM PDT

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        •  Show me which city has fluoride and (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Kevskos, True North

          Provide the data showing a significant reduction after introducing it to the water.

          With links.

          •  That's not how science works: (5+ / 0-)

            I can provide you individual links to studies that do show this (see Roadbed Guy's link to PubMed above), and I'm sure you can post a few competing studies for all the reasons I laid out above, but the issue we're disagreeing about is how consensus science works, and how that informs public policy.  

            But if you want individual studies, they're all over the place.  Newcastle and Manchester. Australia. Ireland. Brazil. Hong Kong. (Note that these studies were all published in the last six months.)   Individually these are just discussions of likely evidence that fluoridation of the water supply resulted in a decrease of tooth decay in the population, some are stronger than others (some are just surveys of old data), and each of the studies individually caveats their finding in appropriate ways.  Together, with the mountains of studies confirming similar results, we approach something like a likely consensus that fluoridation does indeed lower the incidence of tooth decay and, at appropriately low levels, has few side effects outside of occasion and mild tooth discoloration.

            This is light years ahead of the kind of evidence that you're providing, e.g. linking fluoride to IQ, which amounts to a couple of methodologically shaky studies in China.

            Yet - and this is the complaint I started this thread with - groups like Clean Water Portland will tell you the IQ stuff is solid research, and the benefits of fluoridation are overstated.  That's the opposite of what the available research says.  And that's a real problem.

            I'll reiterate one last time that I think there is a more defensible argument to be made related to the current state of dental hygiene in this country (the availability of fluoride and access to good dentists, etc.).  But you're not going to win by asserting the science so broadly.  It's just not on your side.

            Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

            by pico on Sat May 18, 2013 at 05:41:34 PM PDT

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            •  So it has not been validated either way (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Kevskos

              Using your logic.

              Reinforcing my point we are guinea pigs.

              •  Again, that's not how science works. (5+ / 0-)

                There is no such thing as "validated" by the standard you want.  Plain water can't be "validated" by science.  Did you know drinking too much water puts you at risk of hyponatremia, even death?  That's not even counting the number of people who drown every year.  What exactly is the health/safety threshold you need?

                I refer you back to the very first comment I made in this post: the opposition to fluoridation is primarily ideological, not scientific.  That's fine, and you can make a case that way.  But when you start invoking science - as you did in the diary, and continue to do in the comments - your arguments don't hold much water.

                Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

                by pico on Sat May 18, 2013 at 07:39:58 PM PDT

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        •  What research are you referring to? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Kevskos, Horace Boothroyd III

          Have you looked solely at research on teeth, or have you looked at the much wide range of scientific research on the effect of fluoride on the rest of the body?

          This stuff does not go with laser like precision to the teeth.

          •  I'll give it a fuller read when I get home later: (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            jessical, N in Seattle

            from a quick scan, some of it seems interesting, some of it seems silly, and a lot of it relies on the review I cited above by the NRC.  I'll sit down with it later.

            Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

            by pico on Sat May 18, 2013 at 08:22:21 PM PDT

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          •  Okay, a few thoughts: (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Catte Nappe, N in Seattle

            I'll start with the good.  First, for an advocacy site, they do a much better job citing their sources than others (I got a headache trying to research claims from an anti-GMO site earlier this year); they're using much better sources than most, and in general, they do a reasonably good job of explaining some of the deficiencies of the studies they're using.  For me this is the gold standard of good science writing: recognizing that studies have limitations, and being clear about the scope of those limitations.  So by and large, I'm impressed with the site's handling of the science.  Obviously I haven't had time to read every study cited in here, but I'm willing to take them more seriously because they're at least shown a willingness to treat the science more seriously.  

            I do have some criticisms, though.  First, and possibly because it's an advocacy site, it's trying so hard to undercut fluoride at every opportunity that it runs into problems.  For example, on the one hand we reference studies that topical rather than consumed fluoride is what protects teeth, and on the other, we have a section on fluoride and bone density that's actually about direct fluoride treatment rather than consumed fluoride.  What is the relevance of that, given that clinical trials were unsuccessful, and no one actually supports direct fluoride treatment for bone fractures?  It can't be a relative statement about fluoride safety, because consumption isn't the same as direct treatment (as the site itself acknowledges in re: dental care.)  It starts getting into what I said above about confirmation bias: anything that can be construed bad about fluoride is included, regardless of relevance, because this is first and foremost an advocacy group.

            Second, I have the same concern above about using the NRC data so concretely, given that the NRC itself gives a heavy caveat about the levels of exposure studied and the actual exposure (especially now, post-2011 drop in fluoridation level).   Sura 109 cited the famous Paracelsus quote above, and it's a good warning to consider when gauging the health/risks of chemicals.  For comparison's sake, in a comment above Horace cited chlorination of water as a "benefits outweigh the risks" case, but you'd never know that from a similarly brief scan of recent studies.   Turns out chlorine can do nasty things to your body, and if that's what you're focusing on, it looks like a barrage of danger, and how could anyone possibly support this? (but fwiw, I agree with Horace).

            So in sum: if I have time later today I'll revisit the site and track down the original of some of these studies to get a sense of how well they're being communicated, and I do think it's doing a reasonably good job in some respects, but I reserve the right to keep these doubts in mind.  Thanks again for the link!

            Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

            by pico on Sun May 19, 2013 at 12:12:48 PM PDT

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