Saturday, April 28, 2007

Trust Me, I'm A Doctor

Listen to an anti-fluoridation believer squirm, at Bad teeth, bad economics

One of the leading advocates in the anti-fluoride push in Queensland is Brisbane GP Dr John Ryan, from a group called Australian Professionals Against Fluoridation. In an opinion piece in Brisbane's Courier Mail late last year, Dr Ryan said water fluoridation lowered the IQ of children, increased rates of hip fractures and bone cancer, and decreased thyroid functions. Dr Ryan based his claims on an influential review of the science literature on fluoride in water by the National Research Council, the NRC, in the United States. Background Briefing dug up the report to see if it did indeed make these findings.

How does Dr Ryan, a member of a professional organisation, a man who (presumably) understands how to read a scientific report and who, indeed, has summarised that report in the press, respond to criticism? Will he specify the science supporting his beliefs? Or will he simply resort to excuses, fluffs and non sequitars?

Background Briefing put a call in to Dr Ryan's surgery and raised the fact that the report concentrated on research that was looking at much higher levels of fluoride than exists in Australian water.

John Ryan: There was some manipulation, and there was a report on to - there's some trickery involved there, to take the focus on the fluoridated areas, but if you read the report, there is an enormous amount of reference notwithstanding their brief, to any harm done from fluoridation.

Wendy Carlisle: Is it right though, for you to say that, because I've had a good look at that report, and it doesn't actually say what you claim it to be saying. You say that water fluoridation causes hip fractures. But that actual report says that no conclusions could be drawn on fracture risks for levels of 1 milligram per litre; isn't that dishonest of you to present that as unequivocal proof that fluoride in water causes hip fractures?

John Ryan: Well I'll have to agree to disagree until I check what you are saying. But the report I am reading now was prepared with access to that very study. And there was also in that report, if you read it, it was a little bit divided in pro and anti fluoride, and there was this large amount of dissenting. So the consensus that you wish to rely upon, was not agreed to by all parties.

"Agree to disagree"? Doesn't he know what the report stated? Why was he publishing an article in the press about it then? EoR admires the way the interviewer isn't fobbed off by flippant excuses, and sticks to her point.

Wendy Carlisle: But you're making unequivocal statements from that report to support your case against fluoride.

John Ryan: But in terms of hip fracture I can give many other studies, and I'm happy to -

Wendy Carlisle: But you're relying on the NRC report to say that, and it doesn't support what you are saying.

John Ryan: I was quoting that particular report.

Wendy Carlisle: You say also that this National Research Council Report from the States supports your claim that fluoride causes lower IQ in children. The report doesn't actually say that.

John Ryan: It says so even - there's a lot that goes on in that report, I disagree, it says that, and it said even in low doses.

Wendy Carlisle: The report says, and I'm quoting here, that it cannot assess the strength of the studies due to methodological problems.

John Ryan: Yes, well I haven't got the report right in front of me, but colleagues have received the report and lots of summaries, and this is the consensus of what we perceive that the report says. Have you got the report right in front of you this minute, Wendy?

No! Don't ask that Dr Ryan!

Wendy Carlisle: Yes, I do.

Damn! A journalist who's read the report and has a copy right in front of her! It's time for obfuscation again...

John Ryan: It's a very big report and there's a lot said in it other than in the summary.

Is "the consensus of what we perceive" supposed to mean something? If the statements Dr Ryan made, based on the report, are not supportable by the report, why doesn't he simply state where the evidence for his statements was in the report?

EoR admires his closing riposte. Yes, it is a big report. Sadly, some journalists actually take the time to read the whole thing and call him on the misleading statements.


  1. I must have stumbled into a " NAIVE " site instead a " SKEPTIC “ site. I thought a sceptic would challenge the belief that fluoride is safe rather than challenge someone who is trying to point out that it is not .Why didn't Wendy Carlisle ask the Dentist to show his " proof of safety ". Simple answer. There is none. NO health and safety tests have ever been done on water fluoridation in Australia or America or anywhere else in the world for that matter. But still the Dentists (who call themselves Doctors and who have done a whole 2 subjects in chemistry in their course) claim that it is. Amazing ! I guess they can say that there is no proof of harm from the industrial grade chemicals (untreated toxic waste from the Aluminium and Fertilizer industries) because they know no toxicology testing has been done on public fluoridation schemes using these substances.

    The NRC 2006 report gives plenty of concern for health with fluoride whether it occurs as a natural contaminant of water or deliberately put there claiming that it is " good for ya teeth ". The largest children’s dental survey ever done shows a GRAND TOTAL of 0.6 of tooth surface difference less decay (OUT OF 128 TOOTH SURFACES IN A CHILD'S MOUTH) when comparing fluoridated to non-fluoridated surfaces. It is not effective and it cannot be claimed to be safe. Anyone claiming that is should be willing to put up the proof or shut up.

  2. Your critical reading skills appear to have failed. EoR did not say anywhere in this post whether fluoride is safe or not, so why the rant?

    EoR simply brought to readers' attention the outing of someone who made "scientific" statements that misrepresented that science. And then defended himself very poorly when this was pointed out by a journalist.

  3. And never mind the fluoride, EoR trusts you don't imbibe any water either due to its known lethal consequences.


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