The Reality Check #204: Water Fluoridation + Olympics SFSF + Turning Off Lights

In this week’s episode, Chris Hassall dropped by and joined the gang as a special guest. Chris started things off by presenting a completely uncontroversial segment about water fluoridation. Next, Elan led a Science Fact or Science Fiction (TM) game about Olympics and sport (during which Darren complained the whole time). Finally, Darren discussed whether or not it is better to leave a light on or turn it off and then on again.

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Show Notes

Water Fluoridation – piece on the IQ-fluoride press release– another piece on the IQ-fluoride press release – Steve Novella piece on the IQ-fluoride press release – BMJ review of the benefits of water fluoridation. – Cochrane review on the effectiveness of topical fluoride (i.e. toothpaste),water-fluoridation/pdf/Carton-Cross_Fluoridation,A-Violation-of-Medical-Ethics-and-Human-Rights.pdf – Paper outlining the case for water fluoridation as a contravention of human rights and medical ethics.

R. Allan Freeze and Jay H. Lehr, The Fluoride Wars, (New York, John Wiley & Sons, 2009) – Book on the history of water fluoridation and the associated controversies.


Olympic SFSF

Factmonster – Winter and Summer gold medals – Who snubbed Jesse Owens
Science Daily – Stretching
Telegraph – Putting ice on injuries could slow healing
British Journal of Medicine – Cooling an acute muscle injury
Wikipedia – 1896 Olympics medal count

Fluorescent Light

California Energy Commission


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11 Responses to The Reality Check #204: Water Fluoridation + Olympics SFSF + Turning Off Lights

  1. LindaRosaRN says:

    Here are two very good sources of info about fluoridation and anti-fluoridationists:

    The Institute for Science in Medicine has a policy statement on fluoridation and a white paper on the antis:

    Pew has set up the Campaign for Dental Health to combat antifluoridation propaganda:

  2. Jwillie6 says:

    New York State Department of Health dentist Dr. J. V. Kumar published national statistics in the July 2009 “Journal of the American Dental Association” which show water fluoride content has no effect on tooth decay. However, dental fluorosis rates increased as water fluoride levels increased. Even if it were good for children’s teeth, exactly why would adults want to take this poisonous drug in every glass of water every day for the rest of their lives.
    There is a solution to fluoridation to satisfy everyone.

    Citizens already pay for their drinking water. They should not have to pay again for botttled water or filters to remove fluoride.

    1. Take the toxic waste fluoride chemical out of the drinking water.
    2. It is still legal and available, so those who wish to take it can then put fluoride tablets in their glass of water.
    3. Leave the rest of us out of it, giving everyone the freedom of choice.

  3. kem says:

    Missing something here? Populations studied and well documented by W.A. Price (founder of the research section of the American Dental Association) in the early twentieth century that hadn’t been introduced to refined grains and sugar had basically zero dental caries. No brushing, no flouride, no cavities.

  4. aDam says:

    A single study showing that fluoride does not help protect teeth against cavities does little to counter the massive body of existing research which says the opposite. The effect is well established, as mentioned in our show. While dental fluorisis can be a problem with high levels of fluoride it is uncommon at the levels present in our treated water, and it all comes down to risk vs. benefit, a very rare relatively benign problem vs. a very real benefit to the very real problem of tooth decay.

    Citizens shouldn’t have to pay more for bottled or filtered water and they don’t need to as the water from their tap is perfectly fine.

    Your simple solution would lead to a very real decrease in the health of our teeth. I can’t say that seems like a good solution at all.

  5. aDam says:

    Mary, there is a long history of cavities going back far into prehistory.

    The insinuation that they are a modern problem is simply untrue and your suggestion that fluoride may somehow be responsible is even less plausible as the exact opposite is what all research has suggested.

    If the American Dental Association existed at a time in which there were no cavities, what did they even do?

  6. Tom Sidwell says:

    Hey, love the show, but had to correct one major error in the allergy test segment. Your guest host said “IgG isn’t produced during immune reactions, it’s actually produced in response to consuming food”
    The first half of that statement is
    exactly wrong, and directly contradicts his earlier, correct statements on IgG’s immunological roles. IgG is actually an indicator that an immune response is going well. The very first type of antibody produced is IgM, then if the immune response continues, IgG will typically be the next isotype of antibody to turn up. This is why IgG is used as a marker of past exposure to things like microbes or vaccines – its presence indicates an immune response successfully developed and matured, and then left behind long-lived IgG producing plasma cells and memory B cells.


  7. Tom Sidwell says:


    This is what your guest host was referring to with “it’s actually produced in response to consuming food”, some data has suggested that people can produce IgG against allergens, which seems to indicate tolerance. Again, this is early data, so that link isn’t as concrete as you guest host made out.

    In reading the SBM post I believe was his source, I find that it covered the information accurately, but just a little of the accuracy was lost in translation

    Again, I love the show, and really like this guest host, but just felt this deserved a correction 🙂

  8. Tom Sidwell says:

    Just finished listening to the segment and I have two more corrections:

    When Elan asked if you could take multiple IgE tests to reduce the risk of false positives and Chris said you could, that was incorrect. The underlying assumption here is that the ~50% false positive rate is identical for all people without clinical symptoms of allergy. That is not correct.

    The tests in question work by measuring the levels of antigen-specific IgE in the blood. If you have little to no anti-pollen IgE, you’re pretty much not going to be allergic to pollen. The higher the level, the more likely you are to present with clinical symptoms, but in reality there is no hard-and-fast level of specific IgE beyond which you *will* be allergic and bellow which you are not.

    So, some people will have higher specific IgE levels but will not present with clinical symptoms of allergy, and these people will repeatedly get false positives. To give you an idea of the complexity of the issue, here’s a review article summarising some studies which tried to determine what IgE levels would be diagnostic of allergic disease (you may just want to scroll right down to the INTERPRETING COMMONLY ORDERED BLOOD TESTS FOR ALLERGY section)

  9. Tom Sidwell says:

    And finally, immunotherapy for allergies is available outside of R&D and clinical trials (though research continues!), and has been for years. This includes sublingual immunotherapy as well as the more commonly discussed ‘allergy vaccines’ that Chris mentioned.

    Again, love the show, keep up the great work guys.

  10. mr. spock says:

    In regards to Jwillie6’s comment, In the JADA July 2009 issue, page 855-862 had a article titled “the Association between Enamel Fluorosis and Dental Caries in U.S. Schoolchildren”. Its conclusion (according to the abstract) “This study’s findings suggest that molars with fluorosis are more resistant to caries than molars without fluorosis”.
    And the abstract finally notes,
    Clinical Implications. The results highlight the need for those considering policies regarding reduction in fluoride exposure to take into consideration the caries-preventive benefits associated with milder forms of enamel fluorosis.
    It appears to me the paper notes that
    a) fluoridation does reduce the incidence of cavities.
    b) those that want to reduce or eliminate fluoridation levels in water do not realize the effectiveness of fluoridation on promoting dental health.

  11. Pingback: Is water fluoridation safe and/or effective? | Katatrepsis

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