Posted by: Ticktock | February 23, 2009

The Fluoride Conspiracy Theory

There’s been some back and forth about fluoride conspiracies on the comments of my vaccines page.  There seems to be a common theme between antivaccine parents and fluoride haters.  They are both convinced that the government can’t be trusted to protect our health, and that the substances they oppose are toxic and deadly.  Some take the argument against fluoride to an absurd level.  Check out this video if you want your brain to hurt…

Nazis!  It’s an easy way to manipulate an argument to compare your opponent to the horrible genocides in Hitler’s Germany.  Anybody can make such arguments – including Ben Stein – but this type of poisoning the well argument only diminishes the credibility of the person making it.

What if our own government were trying to kill us with tap water? I would say that they are failing because I see a lot of folks drinking water, and I don’t see any correlation with them dying, unless you grant the fact that everybody dies and most everybody in America drinks fluoridated tap water.  If dying and drinking fluoridated water were related, most of us would be dead by now. It seems obvious that NOT drinking any source of water will give you a 100% chance of dying, right?

Fluoride is a main ingredient in rat poison? Not exactly, and not anymore.  Hexafluorosilicic acid is now used to make the calcium fluoride in drinking water.  Opponents of fluoride refer to a time when sodium fluoride was more commonly used than it is today, but even so, the dose makes the poison.

I’m not sure where the “600%” figure comes from quoted in the movie, so I would be interested to see where that originated.  Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, but the rat studies on aluminum absorption were done with sodium fluoride and not calcium fluoride.   The link between alzheimer’s and aluminum is not set in stone, by the way.   The evidence for a correlation between aluminum and alzheimers is tentative and weak.

Does fluoridated water cause bone cancer? One doctoral research paper showed that a subset of children seemed to have a higher correlation of osteosarcoma in a location that was fluoridated compared to an area that was not.  Each year, only 400 children are diagnosed with osteosarcoma, but nearly every child encounters fluoride in their tap water.  In order for this student to find this correlation, she had to isolate a subset of people in her paper.  When the entire data was shown, the correlation disappeared.  Experts, and the original author, agree that the one study is not enough from which to draw conclusions, and besides it was not a peer reviewed research paper published in any journal.

Why would this chemical be in our drinking water? Well, I’m glad I was asked because I know the answer.  Fluoride is a natural ingredient in drinking water any way.  In fact, some facilities remove fluoride because there is too much in the water.  In any case, the dose makes the poison.  I hardly think that one part fluoride per million is hurting the population.

The video finishes with a disgusting display of Godwin’s Law, images of Hitler and George W. Bush superimposed on each other. Rubbish!

I know that this is low-hanging fruit, and that there is genuine debate on fluoridated water, but I think this video shows what can happen when conspiracy theorists corrupt science to suit their agenda.  I would be inclined to agree with the notion that fluoridation has outlived it’s usefulness, but I respectfully reject claims that the amount added to water is toxic or a form of mind control.

To me, it all boils down to one very important fact.  Fluoride is in nearly everyone’s tap water.  If it had a negative effect on the hypothalmus, the skeleton, the kidneys, we would be seeing skyrocketing incidences of these problems.  There is no explanation for the gap between the claims of fluoride haters and the lack of evidence for those claims.   [Edited to Add: I have not seen proof of the claim that the fluoride levels in drinking water put  children at risk of ADHD, but I have seen a study that shows the opposite.  Children with ADHD are more likely to have dental caries (decay).  If the theory that fluoride caused ADHD were true, then children with healthy teeth would be more likely to have ADHD, and not the other way around.]

This is a very tangled topic, but I feel confident in the safety of fluoride based on that logic alone.

I will assume that there will be comments on this post by those who oppose fluoride.  I encourage fluoride haters to give me good reason to believe that the amount of fluoride in US tap water is dangerous.  We’ve had fluoride in the water for fifty years.  There has been plenty of time to show concrete evidence that it is harming the population.


  1. Hi,
    My google alert for HFCS, which you only metioned briefly, picked up your post. I am sure you are referring to the latest news that Hg was found in
    HFCS in 2005 by the FDA, and in foodstuffs in 2008 by the IATP. I commend the IATP for continuing their research (after the FDA dozed off,) but their experiment lacked the classic negative control. They forgot to test foods without HFCS for Hg. I am sure more research will be forthcoming.
    I would still avoid HFCS as much as possible, especially HFCS-55 which is used to sweeten pop and most beverages. The CRA claims that HFCS-55 is roughly equivalent to sucrose, table sugar. Well, it isn’t. HFCS-55 is 55%fructose:45%glucose. To the casual observer this looks very close to the 50:50 ratio of monosaccharides in sucrose. However, 55/45=1.22. That means that everytime a teen chugs a soda (bottled in the US) his liver is receiving the health “benefits” of 22% extra fructose compared to glucose. I am sure you are aware of the metabolic dangers of excess fructose. Dr. Dana Flavin has written an excellent summary on
    Ditch HFCS, especially HFCS-55. To your health

  2. my google alert for osteosarcoma flagged your article. this controversy is amazing to me. cavities or cancer? choices should be based on the possible consequences of an action. I’ll go with cavities, or, gee whiz, teach my children not to ingest garbage. what really got me was your ‘”only” 400 children are diagnosed with osteosarcoma’ (annually). adverbs depend on your perspective i guess. cure rate for osteosarcoma is not pretty. and while there may be something else at work besides just flouride (genetics?)- there *was* a connection in a (harvard I believe?) study – considering the possible consequences, (see above)we should study further not dismiss it. have you checked increasing cancer rates? (they’re increasing for children). do we really think that all of the additives we ingest have no effect on our bodies?

  3. You offer a false dichotomy. Cavities or cancer? There is not sufficient proof that the low levels of fluoride in water cause cancer. The unpublished non-peer-reviewed Harvard study merits further research because there could be other reasons for the correlation of osteosarcoma in the area with fluoridated water.

    The reason I said “only 400 cases” was to put the number of cases in perspective compared to the number of children drinking fluoridated water. Osteosarcoma is listed as a “rare” disease, not what you would expect as a symptom of ubiquitous fluoridation.

    It isn’t for us to determine whether “additives” have an effect or not. That is something that is monitored by the FDA, the CDC, similar international organizations, and scientists. Just because “additives” make you incredulous doesn’t mean that they are damaging our children. That’s why we have science, so that our own fears and parental instincts don’t control how society is governed.

    • Yeah, we certainly would not want to trust our parental instincts, that would just be silly.

      • hehehehe..god forbid, huh?

  4. Ah, careful careful: “If all these things are giving childred ADHD we would all have ADHD.”

    I know what you want to communicate: if these are causally related to ADHD we ought to expect higher rates because the practice is ubiquitous. The disease is not ubiquitous. Therefore we should be skeptical of a causal relation.

    This is true if what we are looking for are (a) necessary causes, without which there is no ADHD, or (b) sufficient causes, which on their own might cause ADHD although there might be other causes that can also cause ADHD. But there is a (c): incidental/accidental causes. These are neither necessary (you can get ADHD without these) nor sufficient (these are not enough to give you ADHD on their own), but nonetheless they are still causes. These are but-for causes, but not necessary causes. They are sufficient-in-this-case without being sufficient on their own.

    The skeptical net will not be wide enough to capture anti-flouride (or anti-anything) people who include (c) causes in their discussions. Arguments against (a) and (b) won’t work to convince them.

    I think most conspiracy theories are built around c-type causes because most people only think in terms of (a) and (b) types, so the conspiracy theorist persists, unfazed by arguments. The evidence has to be conclusive, rather than agnostic or to-date opposed to the conspiracy theory.

  5. You make a good point. I will never marry myself to an idea when the facts are inconclusive. Maybe one of these studies will be replicated and eventually prove that fluoride at any dose is truly dangerous, or maybe a new hypothesis will someday prove toxicity of fluoridated water. I can only speak for what evidence exists today, and that bears little fruit logically speaking.

    Anti-fluoridists can produce a number of dubious studies, but each one has it’s own limitations toward the conclusion that there is a great fluoride conspiracy, or even that fluoridated water poses even the mildest health threat, but taken together, they seem ominous and imposing. Since I’m an amateur (not a chemist or a toxicologist), I can not address each and every claim, neither can most of the conspiracy theorists. So, to be honest, I’m limited to looking at the claim logically, while the experts, whom I collectively trust, back me up on the science front.

    The problem is, as I’m sure future commenters will mention, there are some experts who are indeed anti-fluoride for one reason or another. So, this is one of those gray areas, where I feel like I can’t be quite as cocky about my opinion, since I don’t feel like the scientific community has an adequate arsenal against the various claims. But, I am quite confident that fluoride is not being used to brainwash us into mindless zombies, and I suppose that’s the important hogwash to discredit.

  6. […] in my drinking water. Some are less enamored, but some are downright hysterical. Skeptic Dad has a good post on the conspiracy […]

  7. If all these things are giving children ADHD, we would ALL have ADHD.

    You had me up to there. I agree that there is no credible evidence showing that fluoride (or HFCS, or vaccines) causes any of the adverse effects claimed by these people, but this statement is simply bad science. If some environmental factor increases the incidence of some effect, that does NOT mean it will hit universally across the board. For example, it may be that a small fraction of people are hyper sensitive.

    I keep thinking about Merck’s ads for Propecia, which state that x% of men who take it regrow hair and y% don’t lose any more. If chemicals affect everyone the same, then x=y=100 (or 0).

    I’m not making this point to poke holes in the rest of your argument. I’m making it because I think you’re basically right, and you need to make sure there’s nothing in there for the other side to hang on to.

    • That’s the second comment I’ve received on that particular statement, so I edited the original remarks so that I’m basing my arguments on good science and reasoning. I went to check google scholar to see what a search for “fluoride and adhd” would turn up. The first two links that popped up were to papers showing that children with adhd were more likely to have dental caries, which doesn’t fit the theory that adhd and fluoride are linked. I hope that is a better argument.

      Admittedly, I’m rushing these articles during nap time, so I appreciate whenever I receive corrections that point out where I’ve made logical mistakes.

  8. Recently Brisbane -Australia water was fluoridated. As a result I conducted extensive research on water treatment chemicals, and now drink distilled water exclusively. I have suffered from severe asthma attacks on occasion throughout my life and have now been able to connect the episodes with my exposurers to fluoridated water. I have absolutely no doubt, from my own and other family health issues that fluoride is a major cause of chronic health problems. thyroid, depression/panic attacks, dizziness, loss of all teeth age 33. etc.

  9. Thankyou very much for this article. I have been researching this issue and was becoming very depressed when I realised how dramatic and misinformed people can be.
    I had just about given up on finding an actual logical argument concerning these conspiracy theories. I think that once people start with the whole Hitler/mind control thing, it becomes completely ridiculous. I am surprise how many people believe that the government are out to get us. Why do people continue to believe these conspiracies when they are so overdone! and when their version of legitimacy is showing a diagram labelled ‘hypothalamus’.
    (Oooh they know vaguely scientific words! I must believe them!)
    Many articles I have found are quite similar (although perhaps not as exaggerated as this one) and I am now thoroughly sick of peoples’ ridiculous suspicions and, well, stupidity.


    • Well, i am glad you said the government is on our side, because I was starting to think otherwise.

  10. “I would be inclined to agree with the notion that fluoridation has outlived its usefulness”
    Why is this?
    Many studies have shown that systematic fluoride has decreased the need for dental care. Fluorapatite is much hardier than hydroxyapatite (proven) and, although the results have lowered it only 1 dental work per person (decayed, missing or filled permanent teeth), it still shows that it works. Perhaps this comment refers to the follow up studies, which showed that, when comparing age groups this was true, but including adults the results were no different. It has been suggested that systematic fluoride only delays the onset of caries by approximately 1.2 years.
    What is your take on this?

    -marg (for some reason my last comment did not show up) im sorry to say i think this is all in your mind. i and my family have suffered from severe asthma for years and have never experienced this, nor have i ever found a reference to fluoride affecting asthmatics… the power of suggestion…? actually similar things have happened in brisbane – reports of stomach problems and nausia in those areas recently fluoridated. Significantly, many of these complaints occurred BEFORE the fluoride would have reached their homes. Interesting.
    Also, i think it is very unlikely you are drinking “distilled” water. Correct me if i am wrong – you mean spring water, right?

  11. Fluoride is in the food chain ,its in soft drinks in beer in tea in every thing thats made with fluoridated water, we are well over the safe level of 1 part per million.fluoride is only supposed to be a top up if our fluoride level is low. We get enough in our tea and other beverages and from most foods,we dont need it in our tap water.let industry pay to get rid of their toxic waste,instead of putting it in our drinking water. the evil twisted morons.i bet they dont drink it.the worst offender is our government for allowing this to happen, what do they get out of it,there is so much evidence against fluoride,most of the world has banned it,countries that have banned products they want to get rid of sell them to australia, in food safety and toxic chemicals we have a lot to learn, the countries that have banned fluoride about 90%of the world.are all wrong, and australia new zealand and usa are right. I dont think so.also it was the usa that started this big con in the first place.a world wide class action is on the horizon.bring it on.The European Court ruling ,has classed fluoride as a medicine,and is banning imports to all E C countries the UK and Ireland, any food stuffs and beverages produced with fluoridated water.Where does that put Australia.they will have to ban fluoride.full stop.I will drink to that,unfluoridated I hope.bye bilpin

  12. Get the fluoride out of my water!!

  13. 1 – my lungs are affected, my brain is fine ,thankx
    2 – sodium fluoride from sodium silicofluoride is the drug of choice in most water in Australia as it is cheap. NEVER calcium fluoride.
    3 – Study Google Earth over Florida and see the 200 foot high lime stacks outside the phosphate fertiliser manufacturers to see your toxic waste additive.
    4 – 9 million people in Australia are sick with asthma and allergies, don’t they count?
    5 – European dentists are trained as doctors first, Europe has identified fluoridated water as medicated, not to be randomly distributed.

  14. The phosphate fertiliser industry processes 170 million tonnes of fluorospar rock a year to extract 23 million tonnes of phosphate. This leaves them with 147 million tonnes of hazardous waste salts to get rid of somehow. What better way than to convince the suckers that an S6 poison is nutritious?
    Yes I now drink distilled and rain water, not chemicals!!

  15. The silicofluorides added to water supplies does not make calcium fluoride. Calcium Fluoride is the usually the naturally occuring fluoride and many studies link naturally occuring fluoride to devastating adverse health conditions.

    Yes, the dose makes the poison. By putting and endorsing fluoride chemicals into the water supply, you are dosing people with un unknown daily intake of fluoride. Unknown because you don’t know who drinks gallons of water a day, who boils their water, or foods make with that water, which concentrates fluoride.

    You don’t know what purchased products contain fluoride because fluoride labelling is not required.

    Fluoride is found naturally in tea. Several cases of skeletal fluorosis (arthritic type disease) have been reported from excessive tea consumption as well as excessive tooth brushing.

    In the last ten years, government statistics show that untreated tooth decay has increase along with fluoridation rates, dental sealants and fluoride varnish.

    Fluoride is neither a nutrient nor essential for healthy teeth. The water supply should never be a vehicle for drugs. Like all drugs, fluoride has side effects but US physicians and dentists are not trained to diagnose them

    For example, there is no dispute that fluoride damages bones and the first signs are similar to that of arthritis which has increase substantially since fluoridation began. However, the government rarely, if ever, funds studies looking at fluoride’s adverse effects.

    Sodium Fluoride is still used as a rat poison and is the ingredient in childrens fluoride supplements.

    for more info

  16. There seems to be confusion in regards to the “conspiracy” theory from what I read here. Unfortunately, I can’t watch what has been removed.

    I would very much like peoples opinions one the video linked below, titled “Fluoride Deception.” Its by Christopher Bryson who used to be a BBC reporter.

    in 3 parts – about 30 minutes in all.

  17. An over does of flouride has been linked to tooth decay!!! A small amount of flouride is okay but if children are rinsing with flouride daily, brushing their teeth with it, and drinking it is posssible that they are getting way to much flouride and it not only causing tooth decay but linking to ADHD.

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