15th Feb 2001: Dentistry
Still no proof on
controversy is likely to continue to rage over
fluoridation of water, says Professor Trevor Sheldon
who carried out a review of the fluoridation issue
at the request of the Department of Health. He has
also said he is concerned that the results of the
review have been widely misrepresented.
who is the founding director for the NHS Centre for
Reviews and Dissemination at the University of York,
was being quoted in the House of Commons by Bill
Etherington, MP for Sunderland North. During a long
address, Mr Etherington stressed that the review,
which was published last year, did not show
fluoridation to be safe.
Then he went on to
read out a letter from Professor Sheldon which said:
'The review team was surprised that in spite of the
large number of studies carried out over several
decades, there is a dearth of reliable evidence with
which to inform policy. Until high quality studies
are undertaken providing more definite evidence,
there will continue to be legitimate scientific
controversy over the likely effects and costs of
said: 'When the report came out in late autumn last
year, I was delighted, as someone who is opposed to
fluoridation and the secretary of the all-party
parliamentary group against fluoridation.
'Having read the
report, my view was that it in no way endorsed the
views that we have been given for many years about
the tremendous benefits of fluoridation, about there
being no danger involved and about there being no
evidence that it could be harmful.'
He went on to ask:
`I should like to know why we are tile only European
country that tolerates the poison that is put into
our water for that is what we are talking about: it
is a poison, nothing else.
`I say to the
Minister with all sincerity that I am very
disappointed that the Department of Health has
joined forces with the British Dental Association,
the British Medical Association and the British
Fluoridation Society in a pre-emptive strike to try
to undermine the report.'
In response, Gisela
Stuart, Under-secretary of state for health, said:
`We have asked the Medical Research Council to
suggest where it might be possible to strengthen the
evidence currently available, We are also discussing
the report with representatives of the water
industry. When the discussions are complete, we will
review the need for legislation.'