After 60 years of debate and research, controversy still rages in the relatively few countries where fluoridation is widespread. Many studies suggest that the benefits of fluoride result from mainly topical action on dental enamel, not from swallowing it, begging the question: “Why are we still adding fluoride to our public drinking water”.

Variable amounts of natural fluoride are present in most water sources. However the fluoride used for water fluoridation is not of pharmaceutical grade, but is in fact a chemical waste by-product. The speaker will contend that the safety margin of fluoride is much lower than was originally envisaged and likely affecting children, our bone composition and the thyroid gland adversely, questioning the ethics of exposing all people to fluoridated water.

It will also be suggested that the benefits of water fluoridation is largely a myth, as evidence shows a lack of correlation between dental health and fluoridation status. Important issues not addressed in many dental studies hint that claimed fluoridation benefits against caries are overstated. If proposed today, fluoridation of drinking water to prevent tooth decay would stand little chance of being adopted, given the current status of scientific knowledge.

Speaker: James Beck M.D., Ph.D.

James S. Beck is professor emeritus of medical biophysics, University of Calgary. He has an M.D. from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri, and a Ph.D. in biophysics from the University of California, Berkeley. He has held positions in physiology and physics at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, and joined the University of Calgary in 1969 as a founding member of the Faculty of Medicine. In addition to research and teaching he served with the faculty association and on the board of governors of the university and retired in 1991.

Dr. Beck was asked to join a committee of dentists and a family physician opposed to fluoridation in Calgary about ten years ago. He has studied the scientific literature on effectiveness of fluoridation and on its possible toxicities since then. He is co-author of the book, The Case against Fluoride, released in November of this year.

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