Adding fluoride chemicals into public water supplies, to reduce children's tooth decay, was met with uncertainty by respected medical professionals from the outset, including a very well respected physician, Dr. George Waldbott. Although denied by today's fluoridationists, scientific safety and efficacy uncertainties persist today. The following was published in 1965 by Dr. Waldbott, but it could just as easily explain the politics of and lack of science supporting the safety and efficacy of fluoridation today.
A Struggle With Titans, (1965) By Dr. George Waldbott, Chapter 3 "A Fateful Decision"
There were two logical approaches for me to gather preliminary information: To contact the American Medical Association and to ask the local Health Department for all available data. I had reason to believe that I would obtain objective advice from both sources. The Detroit Health Commissioner, Dr. Joseph G. Molner, as well as his two predecessors, Dr. Bruce Douglas and Dr. Fred Meader, had consulted me frequently on matters pertaining to allergy. I was certain of his full cooperation.
In a dinner discussion on fluoridation at our home, Dr. Molner assured me that his statisticians had been checking all data carefully. they had found nothing wrong with them. Fluoridation was effective and safe, he stated. He admitted, however, that the Public Health Service and termed the project a "calculated risk."
He was surprised at some of the facts which my wife had dug up. They evidently had not reached Dr. Molner's desk. My wife referred to the article by James Rorty in the Freeman, 1953, which reported the Hearings in Washington, D.C. of the House Select Committee to Investigate the Use of Chemicals in Food and Cosmetics, January to March, 1952, under the chairmanship of James J. Delaney.
The Committee included two physicians, Dr. A. LO. Miller, former Nebraska State Health Commissioner, and Dr. E. H. Hedrick of West Virginia. Its counsel was Vincent Kleinfeld, one of the ablest and most experienced food and drug attorneys in Washington.
After all testimony had been heard, the Committee which had split wide open on all its other reports dealing with fertilizers, and cosmetics, was unanimous in its position regarding fluoridation. It recommended a "go-slow" policy. It pointed to a sufficient number of unanswered questions concerning fluoridation's safety to warrant a conservative attitude. Yet, instead of heeding this advice, the Rorty article stated, both The Public Health Service and the American Dental Association redoubled their drive for fluoridation.
The principal feature which had characterized the promotional campaign up to this date was elucidated in the Rorty article: Promoters attempted to minimize the caliber and the competency of the opposition.
J. Roy Doty, an official of the American Dental Association, complained bitterly in their Journal that the Committee had accepted "misgivings of a few individuals who appeared as witnesses in spite of the weight of evidence furnished by such organizations as the American Dental Association, the AMA, the USPHS, The National Research Council and the Association of State and Territorial Health Officers."
Mr. Rorty continued:
The "few individuals" referred to by Dr. Doty numbered seven scientists who "breadth of training and experience as toxicologists, clinicians, biochemists, nutritionists and research dentists qualified them thoroughly to appraise the issues involved."
"In contrast, most of the eleven witnesses who testified for fluoridation were qualified to talk solely about teeth; they were neither toxicologists nor doctors of medicine."
Dr. Molner told us of his own investigation. At his request, a committee of dentists, Wayne University professors, technicians and engineers had studied the question in 1950. This committee's report came to my attention several years later when it was resurrected from the files of Detroit's Municipal Library. The following are pertinent passages quoted from the Report of the Medical Committee:
"1. Soluble fluoride is an extremely poisonous substance, even more so than arsenic, and its addition to the water supply of a large metropolitan area cannot be undertaken without creating certain possible hazards to the public health. With this in mind, your Committee wishes to present these points:
"A. The intake of city water by this age group (children) is highly uncertain because of the established high consumption of milk and fruit juices.
"B. Certain adults have an abnormally high water intake due to occupation, disease and dietary peculiarities. The fluoride intake of this group might become dangerously high.
"C. Certain occupational groups of substantial size in this metropolitan area are already exposed to fluorides. The effect of an additional fluoride intake on the health of these adult groups in unknown.
"D. The effect of prolonged fluoride ingestion on the health of a large industrial population is not clearly established. It will be necessary to extend studies over a period of at least ten to twenty years to determine the possibility of delayed injurious effects.
"2. In view of the above uncertainties this Committee believes that it is undesirable to undertake the fluoridation of the water supply of metropolitan Detroit."
The Committee recommended the consideration of topical application of fluoride to teeth and exploration of the possibility of adding it to milk.
Dr. Molner expressed some concern about whether or not an even flow of fluoride could be maintained throughout Detroit's water system,. Indeed evidence published subsequently in the Journal of the American Waterworks Association in Oct., 1957, pages 1268-70 and the American Journal of Public Health, Dec., 1958, testifies to the validity of his doubts.
Many years later, on June 11, 1962, Mr. Gerald J. Remus, Detroit's Water Board Manager, who had made an unusually thorough study on this question, wrote as follows to the Detroit Common Council:
..."Doubt exists as to whether uniform fluoride concentration could be maintained throughout the more than 6,000 miles of distribution mains in the Detroit system. Data reported in the American Water Works Association Journal reflects this un-uniformity...we checked 482 samples of water taken from either Michigan cities that fluoridate their supply and we found considerable variation in concentrations."
Our discussion demonstrated that Dr. Molner still favored fluoridation subject to the same provisos which had been established by the Health Department May 3, 1951, namely:
"1. The Health Department now recognizes the public health value of the fluoridation of water.
2. There are very definite risks associated with the introduction of fluoride into a communal water supply from the point of view of workers. Therefore, certain protective measures must be adopted.
3. Baseline studies must be established. At least 5,000 children should be examined annually to determine the amount of good accomplished.
4. Laboratory controls must be continuously run on the water at source and point of usage.
5. Neighboring non-fluoridated communities with similar sources of raw water supply and geographical location should be used as controls.
6. Fluoridation of water must not be looked upon as a complete and only answer for the prevention of dental caries; it is not a panacea, but rather one factor involved in the prevention of dental caries"
Our discussion had been constructive. Dr. Molner assured me that he would furnish me with whatever material he deemed convincing and worth-while. I offered him the same courtesy. I made it clear that I was considering a more thorough study of this matter. As an allergist, I was concerned about the long term effect of fluoridation on allergic patients.
Our second approach was to consult the AMA. Mrs. Waldbott had an unusual entree into AMA's professional staff. It was brought about by a rather fortunate coincidence:
An article appeared in the Alumnae Magazine of Vassar College, her alma mater, by two members of President Truman's Committee for the Nation's Health. It presented the case in favor of socialized medicine. In a letter to the magazine's editor published shortly thereafter, Oct., 1949, page 18, Mrs. Waldbott presented her own appraisal of the subject.
The daughter of a Mr. T. A. Hendricks of the AMA's education staff, at the time a Vassar student, brought Mrs. Waldbott's letter to her father's attention. He immediately wrote Mrs. Waldbott that he considered her letter the "best one page round-up on a subject which had been much misunderstood and misrepresented that had ever reached my desk". He asked for her permission to reproduce the letter for nation-wide distribution among physicians. She gladly complied with his request.
With this entree into the AMA, Mrs. Waldbott thought she would easily obtain the full cooperation of its staff. She was mistaken. Mr. Hendricks suddenly acted as though he had never heard of her. He transferred her request for information like a hot potato to a "Dr. B" Dr. B's reply did not furnish the information which Mrs. Waldbott had requested. She therefore asked for additional information.
In his reply, Dr. B seemed to be quite impatient: "Of course it is simply silly," he wrote, "to talk about any difference between 'natural' and 'artificial' fluoridation of drinking waters. The fluorides are exactly the same, and have exactly the same effect."
This statement is misleading. Of course, the fluoride ion is always the same; its poisonous action, however, is influenced by other minerals associated with it.
Whereas my wife had previous been considered by one AMA official intelligent enough to write an excellent expose of the shortcomings of socialized medicine, her carefully expressed and logical reasoning on the subject of fluoridation was tossed aside as "silly."
In a letter to the AMA office, I firmly protested this rebuff to my wife. I did not realize at that time that such high handed treatment was an integral part of the promotional campaign, which did not originate in the AMA office or with Dr. B.
It came to the fore in an editorial written subsequently by the AMA's Secretary and General Manager, Dr. G. F. Lull, June 1955, when he used such phrases as:
"The unscrupulous opponents of fluoridation."
"...those who take every opportunity to discredit medical science and legitimate public health progress."
Dr. Lull's editorial has been widely utilized for propaganda purposes wherever fluoridation has become an issue.
My correspondence with the AMA secretary disclosed how little the AMA officials and the membership of the organization actually knew about the subject. On nearly every question concerning the purely medical aspect of fluoridation, Dr. Lull, the AMA secretary, had to refer us to none other than - the American Dental Association (as though dentists were better qualified to evaluate harm to general health than he and the scientific body of the AMA)
This impression was confirmed in a letter to me by Dr. Elmer Hess, who was president of the AMA in 1955. He wrote on August 9:
"I think most of us in the American Medical Association feel that we have to depend upon the American Dental Association and the United States Public Health Service primarily for scientific facts concerning a situation of this kind and I am unable to express an opinion as to whether it is safe or not safe."
Our correspondence had brought into focus how sorely the medical profession was in need of truly scientific information on the systemic effect of fluoride.
It did much more to me. It made me more and more curious. It stimulated an intense interest in this subject.
I decided to write a scientific article for the American Medical Association. I began to spend all my spare time in the library studying the available data. My efforts would furnish factual evidence which could be made available to physicians. AMA officials would then no longer be obliged to resort to opinions and views of dentists and health officials. Surely, once the basic facts concerning fluoridation were recorded in the literature by one of their own members, they would look into the subject more thoroughly before continuing their endorsement.
Dr. Molner's offer to furnish me information soon materialized. I received a Newsletter stating the position of the Commission on Chronic Illness regarding fluoridation. This Commission was an independent national agency founded by the American Hospital Association, American Medical Association, American Public Health Association and the American Public Welfare Association, for the purpose of studying problems of chronic disease, illness and disability. The newsletter approving fluoridation had been sent to every prominent health official throughout the land.
The commission's members were professional and lay persons guided by PHS officials. They included such notables as Miss Sarah Gibson Blanding, President of Vassar College; Leroy E. Burney, MD, future surgeon general of the PHS; Theodore G. Klumpp, MD, president of a drug company; The Most Reve. Wm T. Mulloy: Thomas Parran, MD, a former surgeon general; Walter Reuther, representing labor; and other civic leaders.
The pamphlet was written by a Committee of three scientists: Dr. Nathan Shock, Chief of the Section on Gerontology of the National Institutes of Health, a branch of the USPHS; Dr. KF Maxcy, Prof. of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore; and a noted gerontologist (specialist in disease of old age), E J. Stieglitz, MD
The composition of this committee of scientists is worthy of note. In all subsequent investigations of fluoridation initiated for the purpose of obtaining endorsements, whether from professional or from lay organizations, whether on the national, state or local level, so-called "study committees" have been formed. they are guided by one or more outstanding scientists who are thoroughly familiar with statistical surveys furnished by the USPHS and the ADA. The less informed Committee members thus receive all their information from promoting agencies. Rarely if ever are scientists with knowledge unfavorable to fluoridation represented on the committee.
The principal feature of the Chronic Illness Report was its acknowledgment that the Commission had carried out no independent investigation. The three Committee members charged with studying the subject had adopted the opinion of another committee, namely the Ad Hoc Committee of the National Research Council.
This council, set up by the National Academy of Sciences, consists of top leaders in science in their special fields. It acts as liaison between the Public Health Service and industry. It was organized in 1916 with the cooperation of major scientific and technical societies to enable the scientists of the country to associate their efforts with those of the Academy in service to science and to the group.
As customary, this body likewise appointed a special "Ad Hoc Committee for...the Study of Fluoridation.
The nine-member Committee was guided by three scientists two of whom were closely connected with industry, namely Dr. B. G. Bibby, Director, Eastman Dental Dispensary, who had been carrying out research for the Sugar Research Foundation, Inc.; Dr. FF Heyroth, Cincinnati's Health Commissioner, and Assistant Director, Kettering Laboratory, University of Cincinnati, an institute sponsored and supported by industry where research on fluoride has been financed by Alcoa and either other corporations; Dr. HT Dean, the "father of fluoridation," who has personally been responsible for obtaining endorsements in at least a dozen national and international organizations. The only physician member of the Committee, Prof. A. McGehee Harvey of Johns Hopkins Medical School, had never carried out research on fluoride. He therefore had to rely on his dental and PHS advisors for background material.
With such a set up valid scientific evidence unfavorable to fluoridation was bound to be disregarded or presented to the group with adverse comments. Any "neutral" member of the Committee could not have become aware of the true facts without great personal effort.
The Committee based its deliberations according to their Final Report on the evidence of some 30 authors, whose names read like a "who's who" in fluoridation promotion. The only two not linked with a promoting agency were the late Danish scientist, Roholm and Dr. PC Hodges and co-workers.
Significantly, the National Research Council's Committee was chaired by Dr. Kenneth F. Jaxcy, who later became one of the three members of the Study Committee for the Commission on Chronic Illness. Such interlocking of the commission on Chronic Illness. Such interlocking of board and committee members of scientific organizations explains how endorsements are brought about through the influence of a few top scientists. They do not reflect the position of the members whose views have not been canvassed and who in most instances have given the matter little if any consideration.
The most frequently quoted and most impressive endorsements of fluoridation are those of the National Research Council and of the commission on Chronic Illness. Both represent the same group of scientists.
One item in the National Research Council Committee's Nov. 29, 1951, report deserves special mention. It contains the following information: "Concurrently (with the decline of tooth decay in Grand Rapids) there has been a slight decline in the caries rate reported by Muskegon with its fluoride free water supply, 22 per cent in the six-year-olds and 28 per cent in the seven-year-olds. This is unexplained."
Studies on the decay rates in Muskegon had been made simultaneously with those in Grand Rapids, the experiment ally fluoridation town. In the 6 and 7 year age groups of the nonfluoridated "control" city a simultaneous reduction in tooth decay occurred. This observation suggests that some factor other than fluoride added to Grand Rapids' drinking water may have been responsible for improving the condition of children's teeth.
Had this observation become generally known, it would have been embarrassing to the health officials conducting the Grand Rapids-Muskegon experiment. Thus upon become aware of this development they initiated in 1951 a drive to add fluoride to Muskegon's water.
The precipitous abandonment of the control for the Grand Rapids fluoridation experiment was explained by health officials - as stated by Dr. Phillip Jay to the Michigan House of Representatives Committee Investigating Fluoridation Oct 7, 1963 - on the basis that Muskegon's children could no longer be deprived of the "great benefits" of fluoridation. Muskegon citizens' sole source of information concerning what was transpiring in Grand Rapids was the one-sided proponent releases.
Comparisons between Grand Rapids children's teeth and those of a non fluoridated control city were no longer possible. This tended to weaken the claimed benefits to children's teeth made for this major American fluoridation experiment.
It should be emphasized that the members of the Commission on Chronic Illness and of the National Research Council attempted to arrive at an objective appraisal of fluoridation but must have been unaware of the one-sided orientation of their committees. The subject is extremely involved. Valid research is difficult to access. It is only logical to consult those who have done most research. To separate the wheat from the chaff, to distinguish genuine research which sets out to find the answer to a question from research designed to "prove" a thesis determined in advance for sheer propaganda purposes is a laborious process indeed.
Let us return to the Report by the Commission on Chronic Illness: The three scientists who were charged with the investigation accepted several highly controversial theories as though they were proven facts. to name a few such claims:
- Fluoride is a trace element in human nutrition - necessary for sound teeth: An essential trace element to be so designated must be proven to be required for existence of life. Although a board guided by Dr. FJ Stare, Harvard School of Public Health, and several other proponent scientists heavily endowed by industry, have listed fluoride among essential minerals, nowhere in the scientific literature has fluoride been proven necessary for maintaining human life. there is no difference in the fluoride content of sound and decayed teeth. In other words, decayed teeth are not "deficient in fluoride" Fluoride is not needed for healthy teeth.
Another claim made by the commission on Chronic Illness:
- Storage of fluoride in the skeleton is of no "functional disadvantage." this statement has also been subsequently disproven in humans. Serious crippling fluorosis has been reported in areas where natural fluoride water levels are less than 1 ppm.
the Report further claimed:
- "Minute" amounts of fluoride present in food and beverages, particularly in tea - which contains 30 to 60 parts of fluoride per million parts of water - are of no significance Data are available which show that food alone can provide amounts of fluoride up to or far above the so-called safe daily amount of 1-1.5 mg.
- An extraordinary statement constituted a part of The Report. It implied that fluoridation must be harmless because more than 3 million people have been drinking water containing fluoride naturally for generations.
Of all problems encountered in medical science, the recognition of the cause of a chronic illness, especially of chronic poisoning, is one of the most difficult tasks, as demonstrated by our experience with smoking. Millions had been smoking for many years before its ill effect was recognized. If physicians are not looking for harm from fluoride they cannot be expected to recognize it.
Since the dental profession was the major promoter of fluoridation, I assumed that dentists were thoroughly familiar with every phase of the subject. I expected to obtain further information by addressing a circular letter to Detroit's dentists, which I did in May, 1054. I asked for expression of their views. This letter was based upon what I had thus far learned. Essentially it presented an answer to the Report by the Commission on Chronic Illness.
Unaware of the explosiveness of this hot political issue and inexperienced in public relations, I had made reference to Oscar Ewing. Shortly after becoming Director of Social Security in charge of the USPHS he had given the green light to fluoridation before the permanent teeth of children born in the pilot cities had erupted. At the Washington, DC hearing it was brought out that Oscar Ewing, Alcoa's former legal counsel in that city, as a member of President Truman's cabinet, had committed the PHS to promotion of fluoridation.
For the sake of good public relations one was not supposed to mention such things.
My letter stirred up a hornet's next. I received many replies; most of them critical, some abusive and unbecoming to members of a learned profession. A few reached a high emotional pitch, others were most illogical.
"Don't you know that dentistry's greatest experts, Dr. Phillip Jay of Ann Arbor, Dr. FA Arnold, Jr., Dr. John Knutson, consider fluoridation the greatest health measure of modern times?"
"Aren't people allergic to penicillin, too? Would you abandon penicillin treatment?" (As though anyone would ever have proposed adding penicillin to the water supply for everyone to consume daily for a lifetime!)
"You are an allergist and physician. How dare you offer an opinion on fluoridation - a purely dental subject?"
There were a few voices in the wilderness: Several dentists were interested in the information which I had furnished to them. they suspected that not all the had read in their journals and heard at their meetings was cricket. they sensed that something strange was going on in the promotion of fluoridation. They realized that ordinarily genuine advances in dentistry are handled quite differently. They asked, why are not both sides, the pros and cons discussed openly in dental journals and in dental meetings as is customary with new advances in dentistry? they were aware that every new measure in medicine or dentistry is bound to have some side effects. Some knew that fluoride was a treacherous poison. How had it suddenly become a "nutrient," they wondered.
Their uniform demand was, "Please don't quote me."
Subsequently, when several Detroit physicians joined me in forming a group to study fluoridation a local dentist approached every one of them This group was short lived. Each ember in turn received his share of harassment and embarrassment. One of these men was the dean of Detroit's pathologists, the late, beloved Dr. Plinn Morse; another, Dr. Ralph Pino, who had taken an active part in the affairs of the Michigan State Medical Society and the AMA; a third, a greatly respected and highly reputed Detroit internist, the late Dr. William H. Gordon.
One internist, still practicing in Detroit , received a warning from a member of his hospital staff. Should he continue to publicity oppose fluoridation he would jeopardize his consultant practice, even his hospital staff appointment. He was profoundly, distressed. Reluctantly he withdrew. He had no other choice.
I learned subsequently that intimidation and harassment of opponent professional men by dentists and health officials is another major feature of fluoridation promotion. To quote the Journal of the American Dental Association of May, 1955, from a letter by the late journalist George Sokolsky:
"I find that as many of those whom I interviewed who are members of your association are opposed to the process as favor it. I also find that they live in terror of being quoted. They tell me that they may be brought up (before the ethics committee) on charges should I quote their names. I regard such intimidation of any citizen for whatever reason as un-American. I should like to see a Congressional Committee investigate this whole subject."
The Public Health Service has spent thousands of dollars for so-called "research" to "discover" what motivates fluoridation opponents. social scientists call opponents "unsound," "erratic" and "hard to comprehend." Such views indicate that these scientists have not had access to the genuine case against fluoridation. They have based their opinions upon one-sided information given them by proponents.
Shortly after I had written the circular letter to dentists, representatives of the Detroit District Dental Society requested the Council of my medical society to censure me.To oppose fluoridation, they claimed, was unethical. It should not go unpunished. Two members of the Council subsequently told me what went on during that meeting behind closed doors.
After a brief discussion, one of the Council members set the tone: If one of our members has knowledge on a subject about which we know very little and if he does not bring it to our attention - that would be reason for censuring him. The society promptly dropped the matter as did societies in Dayton, Ohio, and in Greenwich, Conn.
This experience had cooled my enthusiasm for the study of fluoride's action on the human organism. I was obliged to re-appraise my situation before going farther. I had to decide whether I should continue looking into the matter or simply drop the subject for good. Persistent open opposition to fluoridation was bound to affect my practice adversely.
Up to this time I was not aware of having ever made enemies. Most of my colleagues, I assumed, had considered me competent. they respected my contributions to the advancement of my own specialty. all of a sudden a large segment of Detroit dentistry, little acquainted with medical research, was questioning my competence. Under such circumstances could I continue to practice medicine? True, I had hosts of satisfied and grateful patients. Numerous physicians were referring their allergic patients to me. Would these physicians be influenced by the wild stories which were already being circulated about me?
There was another side:
Should I drop this extremely challenging study? Should I disregard the very patients for whom I had taken up cudgel?
My friends told me: "It isn't worth while!"
I had just been elected vice-president of the american College of Allergists, one of the two leading national scientific organizations devoted to the study and teaching of allergy. this was solely due to having made important research contributions to this specialty. I had never taken an active part politically in this or in any other organization. Nevertheless, I was in line for the presidency. Any activity in opposition to fluoridation wold almost certainly preempt my becoming president.
"Am I a coward?" I asked myself. "Can I be intimidated?"
Actually these considerations were minor. My curiosity had been aroused. I wanted to learn more about fluoride. I was interested in its effect on those to whom I had devoted my life's career, especially the patients with chronic asthma. Here was a completely virgin field of endeavor. I was thinking of some of the unfortunates who had been extremely allergic to iodide. How much worse wold their illness become were they obliged to ingest, day in and day out, trace quantities of fluoride, another halogen much more toxic than iodide?
Few scientists were in as strategic a position as I to produce the sorely needed evidence. My research background of many years, my financial independence and my indifference to political emoluments, the high repute in which I was held by my patients and by my colleagues in the community, throughout the country - and internationally - surely they could withstand a campaign of disparagement and slander whic had already begun. I could not stop now.
I decided to go on.
The above was copied from a hard copy of the book - forgive any typos. Chapter 1 is here: http://fluoridedangers.blogspot.com/2016/12/fluoridation-struggle-with-titans-then.html
The book in its entirety can be seen here: http://www.bonkersinstitute.org/WaldbottStruggleWithTitans.pdf
Dr. Waldbott also co-authored "Fluoridation: The Great Dilemma"
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