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Letters to the Editor Issue 73

by Letters(more info)

listed in letters to the editor, originally published in issue 73 - February 2002

Scientists find Fluoridation Outdated and Question its Morality Journal of the Canadian Dental Association

Fluoridation may be immoral with benefits exaggerated and risks minimized, reports Howard Cohen PhD and David Locker BDS, PhD, Professor and Director of the Community Dental Health Services Research Unit, Faculty of Dentistry, University of Toronto in the November 2001 Journal of the Canadian Dental Association vol-67/issue-10/ eng/578.html, reports the New York State Coalition Opposed to Fluoridation.

"Ethically, it cannot be argued that past benefits, by themselves, justify continuing the practice of fluoridation," write Cohen and Locker. "Fluoridation is a scientific controversy and substantial benefits recorded in early fluoridation trials, 50 years ago, are no longer found today… Although current studies indicate that water fluoridation continues to be beneficial, recent reviews have shown that the quality of the evidence provided by these studies is poor… The few sound studies that exist indicate small differences in decay between fluoridated and nonfluoridated child populations… Studies on Canadian populations show even less evidence that systemic fluoride reduces tooth decay… studies on adults are largely absent."

Fluoridation does have risks. "Fluoridation increases the prevalence and severity of dental fluorosis"(white spotted, yellow or brown permanently stained teeth)," they report.

"Currently, the benefits of water fluoridation are exaggerated by the use of misleading measures of effect, such as percent reductions," write Locker and Cohen. "The risks are minimized by the characterization of dental fluorosis as a 'cosmetic problem'.

"The impact of dental fluorosis from water fluoridation should not be underestimated," says Hardy Limeback PhD, DDS, Head of the Preventive Dentistry, University of Toronto. "The percentage of the population with severe enough dental fluorosis requiring costly dental restorations to repair defective tooth structure has been steadily increasing. Dental fluorosis should never have been classified as a simple 'cosmetic' side effect – it is a biomarker for systemic fluoride poisoning during early childhood. Research being conducted at the University of Toronto has shown that low daily doses of systemic fluoride from drinking water and other sources permanently affect bone and tooth growth and the mechanical properties of these hard tissues," says Limeback.

"Standards regarding the optimal level of fluoride in the water supply were developed on the basis of epidemiological data collected more than 50 years ago. There is a need for new guidelines for water fluoridation that are based on sound, up-to-date science and sound ethics. In this context, we would argue that sound ethics presupposes sound science," they write.

"In the absence of comprehensive, high-quality evidence with respect to the benefits and risks of water fluoridation, the moral status of advocacy for this practice is, at best, indeterminate, and could perhaps be considered immoral," write authors Locker and Cohen. "In the absence of a full account of benefits and risks, communities cannot make a properly informed decision whether or not to fluoridate."

Locker and Cohen also recognize that fluoridation doesn't allow individuals to opt out, thereby, eliminating their freedom to choose. And, they explain, psychological studies on adolescents show effects of dental fluorosis are as serious a concern as overbite and overcrowded teeth.

"Cohen and Locker's investigation does not address other risks of fluoridation that researchers report, but most dentists ignore, including increased lead absorption in children, bone fractures, neurological impairment, thyroid dysfunction and more," says lawyer Paul Beeber, President, New York State Coalition Opposed to Fluoridation.

Contact: Paul Beeber,
NYS Coalition Opposed to Fluoridation,
Tel: 516-433-8882,;

Hardy Limeback PhD, DDS,
Head of Preventive Dentistry,
University of Toronto.
Tel: 416-979-4461;;

Source: NYS Coalition Opposed to Fluoridation

Vitamin C Cancer Therapy

Our doctors would endorse the comments in your article on Cancer and the potential of Vitamin C. Dr Garg and Dr Perry have sought to assist patients who are seeking to balance between natural and conventional therapies. In truth the reality is most of us would want to try almost anything to eradicate cancer.

The experience of the cancer patients we help is to support their immune system with up to 50000 mg of intravenous Vitamin C, plus daily oral supplementation spread through the day to a level just before the patients suffers diarrhoea. We do not offer a cure.

However we have patients who were originally advised by their oncologist that they would be dead years ago. Their cancers are either slower in developing or in remission.

Our doctors additionally combine DMSO intravenously to boost the immune system and help fight the cancer. We never say that a patient should refuse surgery/chemo/radiotherapy in favour of a natural route but offer our support to complement the conventional treatment in a integrated attack on the cancer.

John Buckley
Arterial Disease Clinic

Complain to your Member of Parliament

(Your Name and Address) (Date)
Your Member of Parliament
The House of Commons
London SW1


We appreciate your concern for British freedom and sovereignty.

We are concerned that, in response to the Directive of the European Council of Ministers on Food Supplements October 2001, the Government is planning to legislate against sales of antioxidants in the UK. We are concerned that in two years hence it will be against the law in the UK to sell food supplements containing more than RDA levels of vitamin C, vitamin E and selenium.

We are alarmed at this encroachment on personal liberty by the European Union. If Parliament passes this legislation, in two years time we the people in Britain would be denied the basic human right to protect our health.

Upon the establishment of DSHEA 94, President Clinton said, "Some rules and regulations, once created for the goodness of people, now start to have an adverse effect and create more harm than good."

There is reason to believe the new directive against antioxidants will create more harm than good.

1. Why is there a need to ban antioxidants when they are safe?

The Institute of Medicine, advising the US National Academy of Sciences, has recently set new RDAs (RDI in the US) and guidelines for safe daily intakes of vitamin E, vitamin C and selenium (See table below).

Nutrient RDA Vitamin level Antioxidant level Safe Level
Vitamin E 22 IU per day 400 – 800 IU/day 1500 IU per day
Vitamin C 60 mg per day 500 – 1,500 mg/day 2000 mg/day
Selenium 55 µg per day 150 – 200 µg/day 400 µg/day

Vitamins and minerals taken in small amounts can prevent deficiency diseases. For example at 60 mg per day ascorbic acid acts as a 'vitamin' to protect against scurvy. This is its RDA level – Recommended Daily Allowance in the UK, RDI is Recommended Daily Intake in the US.

Higher levels of certain vitamins and minerals – selenium, vitamin E and vitamin C for example – have an antioxidant activity e.g. they give up electrons to free radicals, neutralizing them before they damage the cells of our bodies e.g. 1,000 – 2,000 mg per day ascorbic acid will act as an antioxidant. The difference between 'vitamin' and 'antioxidant' is the difference in level of activity.

2. Why is there a need to ban antioxidants when they provide a measure of protection against life threatening degenerative diseases?

Antioxidants can prevent heart disease and cancer.

In 1996 the Lancet published the results of the Cambridge Heart and Antioxidant study on 2000 people. This study showed that 400 – 800 IU Vitamin E per day can protect against cardiovascular disease and significantly reduce the risk of heart attack.

In 1993 the New England Journal of Medicine published the results of a study in the United States involving 87,245 US nurses. The research showed that ten times the RDI of vitamin E can act to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by 40%.

In 1989 the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association published that 150 – 300 micrograms selenium per day can help protect against heart disease and in 1990 the Journal of Biological Trace Element Research showed that three to six time the RDI of selenium can the reduce the risk of lung cancer.

3. Why is there a need to ban antioxidants when they do not act like drugs, herbs or medicines that have a therapeutic effect?

Antioxidants scavenge free radicals. They donate electrons to oxidizing agents produced by the junk food we eat, pollution in air we breathe, chlorine in the water we drink. The toxic pesticide residues in fruit and vegetables also generate free radicals. Household, garden and DIY chemicals, cosmetics, smoking, drinking, and prescribed drugs also produce free radicals.

Antioxidants are merely easily oxidized, non-toxic molecules available in the body to be oxidized by free radicals. This process is not to be confused with the metabolic, therapeutic effect of drugs, herbs or medicines. It is a form of 'sacrificial protection'. An example of sacrificial protection is the galvanic action of zinc or magnesium used to protect steel in ships, roofs, aquariums etc. The magnesium and zinc are more easily oxidized than the steel. They are sacrificed to oxidation to prolong the life of the steel. Antioxidants do the same for the cells of our bodies. They are sacrificed to oxidation to prolong the lives of our cells and protect them from degeneration and premature ageing caused by free radical attack.

Antioxidants do not affect the cells of our body so much as protect them. Antioxidants do not act as medicines that cure disease. They merely neutralize harmful agents that cause degenerative disease.

The greatest danger to our health today is chronic degenerative disease. Heart disease, cancer and strokes are number one killers, while arthritis, chronic fatigue and a host of other debilitating conditions are destroying the quality of life for millions of people.

Research now suggests that the scavenging effect of antioxidants can alleviate chronic degenerative diseases.

* In 1991 the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published that antioxidants can slow aging and reduce degenerative disease;
* Antioxidants have been shown to prevent Alzheimer's disease and in 1991 the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition revealed that antioxidants slow the progress of Parkinson's disease;
* A 1996 edition of Cancer Research published that antioxidants protect against cancer. In a 1991 supplement to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition antioxidants were shown to reduce risk of cancers of the lung, uterus, cervix, mouth and gastrointestinal tract;
* In 1992 the British Medical Journal published that antioxidant vitamins can protect against cataracts and in 1994 the Journal of the American Medical Association published a paper revealing that antioxidants can reduce the risk of macular degeneration by 43%;
* 20% schoolchildren now suffer asthma. In 1995 the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, published that asthma can be reduced by vitamin antioxidants and antioxidants can help children with cystic fibrosis. Parents will welcome these studies;
* Research has shown that antioxidants can help the elderly as they protect against pulmonary disease and emphysema and alleviate arthritis.

4. Is the new legislation against antioxidants based on science or anti-supplement prejudice?

The UK Health Dept Committee on Medical Aspects of Nutrition and Food Policy (COMA) dismisses all research in support of antioxidants as inconclusive. Ignoring hundreds of papers in support antioxidants they cite the dozen or so papers which show inconclusive results.

Press reports have recently suggested that vitamins are a health hazard. In the UK, in the last ten years only one vitamin fatality has been reported due to an overdose of nicotinic acid. The American Journal of Emergency Medicine reported only five fatalities in the USA due to the inappropriate use of nutritional supplements in eight years (1987 – 1994).

High levels of vitamin C can be laxative, selenium may cause hair loss and brittle nails and vitamin E can thin the blood. In 1993 the Journal Clinical Cardiology published that 400 – 1,200 IU vitamin E per day has been shown to inhibit platelet adhesion. The use of vitamin E to thin the blood in the prevention and treatment of heart disease is surely preferable to using rat poison – Warfarin or Coumadin – commonly prescribed for this purpose.

Media reports that vitamin C thickens arteries were misleading. The studies in question revealed that the walls of arteries made thin by smoking can be regenerated to their natural 'thickness' by high levels of vitamin C. Also DNA changes to cells in test tubes immersed in ascorbic acid do not establish a conclusive link between vitamin C and cancer (see also article Issue 71 Vitamin C and Cancer

5. How safe are medicines compared to antioxidants?

* The Journal of the American Medical Association published in 1998 that in the USA in a typical year, prescribed drugs killed 106,000 people and caused 2,216,000 to be hospitalized; drug reactions are now the fourth major cause of death after heart disease, cancer and stroke;
* In the Betrayal of Trust (1994) Dr V. Coleman reported people suffering the adverse effects of prescribed drugs and medical error take up unnecessarily a million NHS hospital beds every year;
* In 1997 the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology published that the vast majority of drug reactions go unreported;
* In 1991 the British Medical Journal reported that 85% of medical and surgical procedures are scientifically unproven.

6. How reliable is the scientific advice on supplements?

Professor Norman Krinsky of Trufts University School of Medicine headed the antioxidant study for the Institute of Medicine. He warned against taking antioxidants concluding "a direct connection between the intake of antioxidants and the prevention of chronic degenerative disease has yet to be established." He added, "After a comprehensive review of the scientific evidence, our panel concluded too little is known at present to provide a definitive answer."

The same institute spoke in this manner about folic acid. Whilst the Lancet, in 1996 published research revealing 400µg folic acid reduces neural defects by 70%, the Institute lowered the RDI for folic acid to substandard levels. Their concern was possible masking of pernicious anaemia – a very rare disorder among women of childbearing age!

In a personal conversation Dr Wagenmaker on the European Commission said the upper limit of 3x RDA was to be the standard throughout the European Union. He said that we the people did not have the knowledge to make informed decisions on supplement intake. The experts in the European Commission have the knowledge and therefore they have responsibility to decide for the people of Europe.

7. What safeguards are there that antioxidant combinations will not be banned along with herbal combinations?

In supplements vitamin and mineral combinations are important. Synergy and balance is vital in antioxidant activity. Vitamin E for example, prevents lipid peroxidation but in the process it becomes oxidised into a damaging tocopheroxyl radical. However, this process can be reversed by vitamin C. Vitamin C regenerates vitamin E and glutathione regenerates vitamin C. Glutathione and vitamin E both require selenium for their action.

Many powerful antioxidants are plant extracts. Broccoli, citrus and grape seeds and skins are common foods. Turmeric and rosemary are common condiments. Eating 6 – 8 servings of fruit and vegetables will provide a level of antioxidant protection. However, because few people maintain this level of consumption of fruit and vegetables there is a valid case for supplements with extracts of foods and condiments, which provide antioxidant protection.

8. Is it safe to rely on fresh fruit and vegetables for antioxidant protection?

On October 20th, 2001 The Guardian Weekend published a shock article on the unacceptable levels of pesticide residues in the fruit and vegetables sold in shops and super-markets throughout Great Britain. 'Toxic Shock' reported the lax attitude of the British Government. The report highlighted the regulating agency depends upon the agrochemical industry for funding and that tests are inadequate and inaccurate. Some carrots samples revealed pesticide levels 25 times higher than accepted levels. Potatoes have 12 pesticide applications and Cox's apples 16 in a single season. Carrots are sprayed with 4 insecticides – highly toxic organophosphates – three herbicides and two fungicides. A lettuce can be treated with 11 – 12 pesticides.

We are told that we can get everything we need from our diet. We are assured that 6 – 8 servings of fresh fruit and vegetables will provide all the antioxidants we need. However, if we depend on fresh fruit and vegetables for antioxidant protection how can we be sure we will not risk our health with excessive levels of toxic agro-chemical residues?

Research is revealing a link between agro-chemicals and degenerative diseases. It may be years before the research is 'conclusive'. Meanwhile can we trust those generous servings of fruit and vegetables to protect our health or will they poison us?

9. Will people still be able to buy antioxidants from abroad for personal consumption?

We know of cases in Finland and Germany where antioxidant supplements have been refused entry by customs because they contain more than three times the RDA level. Will this European practice be adopted in the UK?

10. Is the new legislation against antioxidants an infringement of basic human rights?

It is a fundamental human right to be healthy. People have a right to protect their health by purchasing antioxidant levels of vitamins and minerals to quench free radicals. They have a right to access natural herbs and plant extracts that offer antioxidant activity.

Please bring our concerns to the attention of the Health Minister, the Rt. Hon Alan Milburn, and to the attention of the EU Council of Ministers.

Yours sincerely

(Your name)


1. Stephens N, Parsons A, et al. Vitamin E supplementation in coronary disease patients. Lancet 347(9004): 781. 1996.
2. Stampfer M. Vitamin E consumption and the risk of coronary artery disease in women. New England Journal of Medicine [N Engl. J Med] 328:1444-49. 1993.
3. Kok F. et al. Decreased selenium levels in acute myocardial infarction. Journal of the American Medical Association [JAMA] 261:1161-64. 1989.
4. Yu, Shu-Yu Intervention trial with selenium for the prevention of lung cancer. Biol. Trace Elem. Rsch. 24: 105-8. 1990.
5. Cutler R. Antioxidants and aging. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition [Am J Clin Nutr]. Suppl. 53(1): 373S. 1991.
6. Frilich L, Riederer P. Free radical mechanism in dementia of Alzheimer's type and the potential for antioxidant treatment. Arzneim-Forsch/Drug Rsch 45(1): 443. 1995.
7. Fahn S. An open trial of high-dosage antioxidants in early Parkinson's disease. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 53 Suppl: 380S-2S. 1991.
8. Duthie S, Ma A, Ross M, Collins A. Antioxidant supplementation decreases oxidative DNA damage in human lymphocytes. Cancer Research 56:1291. 1996.
9. Singh V. Premalignant lesions: role of antioxidant vitamins and beta carotene and risk reduction and prevention of malignant transformation. Am J Clin Nutr. Suppl. 53(1): 386S- 90S. 1991.
10. Jacques P et al. Antioxidant status in persons with and without senile cataracts. Arch Ophthamol. 106: 337-40. 1988.
11. Knekt P. et al. Serum antioxidant vitamins and risk of cataract. British Medical Journal [BMJ] 305: 1392. 1992.
12. Robertson J. A possible role of vitamins D and E in cataract prevention. Am J Clin Nutr. Suppl. to 53(1): 346S-51S. 1991.
13. Seddon J. Dietary carotenoids, vitamins A,C and E and advanced age-related macular degeneration. JAMA 272(18): 1413-20. 1994.
14. Hatch G. Asthma, inhaled oxidants and dietary antioxidants. Am. J. Clin Nutr. Suppl. to 61: 625S-30. 1995.
15. Portal B, et al. Altered antioxidant status and increased lipid peroxidation in children with cystic fibrosis. Am. J. Clin Nutr 61: 843-7. 1995.
16. Britton J et al. Dietary antioxidant vitamin intake and lung function in the general population. Am. J. Respir Crit Care Med. 151: 1383-7. 1995.
17. Merry P. Oxidative damage to lipids within the inflamed joint. Am J Clin. Nutr. Suppl to 53(1): 362S-9S. 1991.
18. Steiner M. Vitamin E: More than just an antioxidant. Clin.Cardio. 16 Suppl. 1: 1-16-1-18. 1993.
19. JAMA 279: 1200. April 15 1998.
20. Coleman V. The Betrayal of Trust. EMJ. 1994.
21. Brit. J. Clin. Pharm. 43: 177-181. 1997.
22. British Medical Journal [BMJ]. October 1991.
23. Cuskelly G et al. Effect of increasiing dietary folate on red-cell folate: implications for the prevention of neural tube defects. Lancet 347: 657-9 1996.
24 Editorial Can lowering homocysteine levels reduce cardiovascular risk? N. Engl. J. Med. 332(5): 328-29, 1995.

Dr Elisabeth Ash MB, ChB, Dip. Obst.
and David Ash BSc.


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