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York 3.2

A collection of Critiques of the York Review

In the News: Dentistry

Still no proof on fluoridation?

15th February, 2001.

Scientific 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.

Professor Sheldon, 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 water fluoridation."

Mr Etherington 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 still the 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."

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