Thursday, 2 October 2014

Lifting the Curtain on the Anti-Fluoridation Movement

An Open Letter to Dublin City Councillors on the eve of a vote on a Sinn Fein anti-fluoridation motion

A recent email to your good selves from a Mr Owen Boyden, of the Fluoride Free Towns campaign, has led me to follow the trail of money and influence which is behind, not just the Irish, but the International campaign to abolish water fluoridation.

It's a trail which leads ultimately to a $2 million mansion outside Chicago, the home of Dr Joseph Mercola, a former GP who spurned conventional medicine in favour of a lucrative $10 million a year business peddling highly controversial unregulated alternative health remedies. Mercola has been the subject of a number of United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Warning Letters related to his health remedies activity and a 2006 BusinessWeek editorial described his marketing practices as "relying on slick promotion, clever use of information, and scare tactics." (See below for details of the FDA warnings to Mercola. For criticisms of Mercola products by medical researchers see

On his highly profitable website Mercola sows doubt among gullible readers about almost every aspect of conventional medicine ranging from drug efficacy, to surgery, and even vaccination, which he vehemently opposes. But then he also also has a Mercola brand “natural” product to offer for almost every ailment, even including AIDS. He also, of course, has an alternative for fluoridation.

Earlier this year Mercola formed a close alliance with several other alternative health movements, including the National Vaccine Information Center, which opposes the mandatory vaccination of children, and the Fluoride Action Network, led by a English man, Paul Connet, and his son, which opposes fluoridation. Both of them are funded by receiving a share of sales of Mercola's questionable remedies.

The Mercola-funded Connett paid a flying visit to Dublin last Sunday to be a guest of honour at a poorly attended anti-fluoridation gig in Whelans of Wexford Street. In fact advance bookings were so poor that the gig's organiser, Mr Boyden's anti-fluoridation colleague, the Tralee-based Aisling Fitzgibbon, ditched the venue's €15 entry fee and offered to refund any who had booked and paid in advance.

As far as Ms Fitzgibbon is concerned, anti-vaccination and anti-fluoridation are two sides of the same coin so she probably had lots to discuss with Connett, who is also a trenchant opponent of child vaccination.

Ms Fitzgibbon, who also calls herself The Girl Against Fluoride (or TGAF to some of her friends) is a talented attention seeker who on occasion has been known to strip down to her (pink) underwear for photographs. She also turned up at Dublin City Hall prior to a council meeting earlier this year where, in the words of one councillor, she “aggressively filmed” him when he announced that he planned to vote in favour of the retention of fluoridation.

She recently published on Facebook a poster of a group of charming babies with the headline “Love them. Protect them. Never inject them. There are NO safe vaccines.” The posting also alleged that vaccination caused polio, in addition to shaken baby syndrome, chronic ear infections, death, SIDS [sudden infant death syndrome], seizures, allergies, asthma, autism, diabetes, and meningitis. The posting was introduced on Ms Fitzgibbon's Girl against Fluoride Facebook page by the alarming sentence: “Vaccines are so last year.”

I need hardly add that not a single one of Ms. Fitzgibbon's outlandish anti-vaccination claims are even remotely true. One might be tempted to give Ms Fitzgibbon some benefit of doubt upon learning that she is a qualified therapist but alas, her therapy skills relate solely to the manipulation of one's angels (it's often called Angel Healing) whom, it is said, she can persuade to act positively on one's behalf. She also recently acquired the status of an alternative lifestyle “GAPS” nutritionist. Her qualification came courtesy of a correspondence course offered by a Russian doctor, Natasha Campbell-McBride, who is not qualified to practice in Europe, or the USA.

Campbell-McBride has nonetheless managed to discover a new disease she calls “Gut and Psychology Syndrome” (GAPS). Unusually, Campbell-McBride has registered the name of the newfound disease as a trade mark, something I've never encountered before in many years of writing about science and which probably means nobody else can offer a competing cure, no matter how effective. For fear of being held in breach of copyright by her I'll just briefly list some of the diseases she claims her diet can treat. They include autism, ADHD/ADD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, depression and schizoprenia. I've yet to encounter any medical specialists who agree with her unique methods (but if you know of any please let me know).

But back to Paul Connett. On his Fluoride Action Network website he publishes what he calls the “largest scholarly database for fluoride related contaminants.” However using it we failed to unearth any of several Irish studies which confirmed fluoridation posed no health risk.

Connett's database greatly misrepresents the limited science it does present. An example is a doctoral thesis by a young US scientist called Bassin who discovered what she thought was a link between fluoridation and osteasarcoma, an extremely rare bone cancer in males. As doctoral theses often are, this was described by some as an “exploratory” study. Even Bssin admitted that the link might be tenuous because she could find no similar association in females and said it required further research. It's worth pointing out that subsequent research in the US, and also in Ireland, has failed to support her contention and concluded there is no link between the two.

However, the Fluoride Action Network went into typical “Shoot the Messenger” mode and, while it continued to praise and promote Bassin's now rebutted research, accused the lead researcher on one study of massive breaches of scientific ethics. Another even more convincing 2011 osteosarcoma study, by Kim et al, also failed to find an association between osteosarcoma and fluoridation, in addition to another 11 studies which also failed to find any link with fluoridation. But Fluoride Action Network says Kim “purported” to find no associaton and then went on to complain about things it said should have been studied instead. Not only does Connett assassinate the messenger, he manages to convincingly muddy the waters too.

And so on.

It has been said that restricting the flow of external information to one's adherents is one of the hallmarks of a cult.

You might say that, but I couldn't possibly comment.

Gerry Byrne,
Science Journalist


Dr. Joseph Mercola has been the subject of a number of United States Food and Drug Administration Warning Letters related to his health advocacy activities:
02/16/2005 - Living Fuel RX(TM) and Coconut Oil Products - For marketing products for a medical use which classifies those products as drugs in violation of 201(g)(1) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.[51]
09/21/2006 - Optimal Wellness Center - For both labeling / marketing health supplements for purposes which would render them to be classified as regulated drugs as well failing to provide adequate directions for use upon the label in the event that they were legally sold as drugs.[52]
03/11/2011 - Re: Meditherm Med2000 Infrared cameras - For marketing a telethermographic camera for medical purposes which have not been FDA approved.[53]
12/16/2011 - Milk Specialties Global - Wautoma - Failure to have tested for purity, strength, identity, and composition "Dr. Mercola Vitamin K2" and others.[54]

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