EWG.org  [Printer-friendly version]
April 5, 2006


[Rachel's introduction: Fluoride in drinking water is linked to a
five-fold increase in rare bone cancers among boys.]

WASHINGTON -- Boys who drink water with levels of fluoride considered
safe by federal guidelines are five times more likely to have a rare
bone cancer than boys who drink unfluoridated water, according to a
study by Harvard University scientists published in a peer-reviewed

The study, led by Dr. Elise Bassin and published online April 5, 2006,
in Cancer Causes and Control, the official journal of the Harvard
Center for Cancer Prevention, found a strong link between fluoridated
drinking water and osteocarcoma, a rare and often fatal bone cancer,
in boys. The study confirms studies by the National Institutes of
Health (NIH) and the New Jersey health department that also found
increased rates of bone cancer in boys who drank fluoridated tap

Bassin's study comes on the heels of a National Academy of Sciences
(NAS) report that found the federal "safe" limit for fluoride in tap
water did not protect children from dental fluorosis or increased bone
fractures. The NAS recommended that the allowable limit for fluoride
in tap water be lowered immediately.

"This study raises very serious concerns about fluoride's safety and
its potential to cause bone cancer in teenage boys," said Richard
Wiles, senior vice president of the Environmental Working Group.
"The findings raise fundamental questions about the wisdom of adding
fluoride to tap water."

The Bassin study is also at the center of a joint federal and Harvard
ethics investigation into whether Dr. Chester Douglass'the chairman
of Oral Health Policy and epidemiology at Harvard Dental School and
Bassin's doctoral thesis advisor'lied about the results of her work
when reporting the results of his federally funded research to the
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS).

Last year, Environmental Working Group (EWG) obtained documents
strongly suggesting that Douglass may have misrepresented Bassin's
findings. Douglass has received large federal grants to study the
relationship between fluoridated drinking water and bone cancer, and
is on the payroll of Colgate, the toothpaste giant, where he has
edited their dentists' newsletter for more than a decade.

When pressed recently by an investigative reporter from Fox News in
Boston as to the quality of Bassin's findings, Douglass had nothing
but praise for the work. "She did a good job. She had a good group of
people advising her. And it's a nice'it's a nice analysis. There's
nothing wrong with that analysis," he said.

"It's nice to see that Dr. Douglass has finally come clean on the
quality of Dr. Bassin's work. It's just a shame that he was not so
forthcoming when reporting on his work to the NIH," Wiles said.

Fox filmed Dr. Douglass waving a draft copy of Harvard's investigation
of his conduct, and saying the university's report will be coming out
soon. Last year, EWG asked the NIEHS, which funded Douglass' research,
to investigate whether he misrepresented his findings.

EWG urges communities not to add fluoride to tap water, and advises
parents to avoid fluoridated water for their children, particularly
bottle fed infants. "Fluoride is fine in toothpaste, where it is
directly applied to the teeth, but provides almost no dental benefit
in water, while presenting serious health risks, particularly for
boys," Wiles said.

Environmental Working Group is a nonprofit research organization based
in Washington, D.C., that uses the power of information to protect
human health and the environment. The group's work on fluoride is
available at http://www.ewg.org/.