NHMRC report ‘total rejection of anti-fluoride lies’ says state opposition

Federal Labor Health spokesman Walt Secord (Fairfax file photo)
Federal Labor Health spokesman Walt Secord (Fairfax file photo)

A federal government report into water fluoridation is being touted as a total rejection of the lies spread by the anti-fluoride activists in regional NSW.

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) released its updated report into water fluoridation and dental and other health outcomes on Tuesday, July 4.

NSW Shadow Health Minister Walt Secord  said the report – Information Paper - Water fluoridation: dental and other human health outcomes – “seals the case once and for all in favour of water fluoridation”.

Mr Secord called on anti-fluoride protestors – especially recent active ones in the Bega region on the South Coast and the North Coast – to read the report in its entirety. 

He said the report demolishes the “myths, distortions, conspiracy theories and outright lies peddled by the anti-fluoride groups like the so-called Clean Water for Life – Fluoride Free for Bega Valley”.

Fluoride was first introduced in Tasmania in 1953, followed by Yass in NSW in 1956. Currently, 93 per cent of NSW has fluoridation, but there are several NSW communities resisting efforts to introduce fluoride into their water supply.

The NHMRC report looked at evidence from New Zealand, Britain, South Korea, Brazil, Israel and Australia.

Some of the findings include:

  • “Evidence shows that water fluoridation at current Australian levels reduces the occurrence and severity of tooth decay”. (p58)
  • “Water fluoridation at current Australian levels is not associated with cognitive dysfunction, lowered IQ, cancer, hip fracture and Down syndrome.” (p58)
  • “There is no reliable evidence of an association between water fluoridation at current Australian levels and other human health outcomes.” (p58)
  • “There is no reliable evidence of an association between water fluoridation at current Australian levels and chronic kidney disease, kidney stones, heart disease and high blood pressure, low birth weight, mortality, certain muscle and skeletal effects, thyroid function, and self-report health outcomes.” (p 43)
  • “Fluoride is found widely in the earth’s crust and occurs naturally in water and many foods.” (p55)

Mr Secord said this was one of the most concise and considered papers he had read on fluoride. He pointed to NHMRC evidence that found “water fluoridation reduces tooth decay by 26-44 per cent” (page 4).

“It is mind boggling that there are groups who are fighting the introduction of fluoride into NSW drinking water,” he said.

“Vaccinations and fluoride are two of the greatest public health initiatives in the last century.

“We owe it to the next generation to give them the best and healthiest start in life. Good dental hygiene and health affect the overall person’s health outcomes.

“I grew up in rural Canada and drank bore water which did not have the benefit of fluoride; that is regrettable. However, our nation’s children do not have to risk unnecessary tooth decay and dental problems.”

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