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Volume 710: debated on Monday 18 May 2009


Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Thornton on 20 April (WA 336), whether the Answer recognised that the Australian review which it cited: (a) explicitly took the York report as the basis for its findings under all headings; (b) found only three additional “small” studies on bone fracture (, and four on cancer which should be interpreted “with caution” (, all but one of which were of the lowest level of evidence (“Level IV”); (c) found no recent studies on Down's syndrome ( and confirmed York's finding of a “weak” association with water fluoridation; (d) found one “Level IV” study each on coronary heart disease and kidney stones (; and whether they consider that it is accurate, in the light of York's mixed evidence of harm in these areas, to describe such evidence as providing “nothing” to support claims of harm. [HL3356]

The York report did not refer to “mixed evidence of harm” but concluded that there was “no association” between water fluoridation and bone fractures and cancers and “the miscellaneous other adverse effect studies did not provide enough good quality evidence of any particular outcome to reach conclusions”. In its public statement on its review, the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council concluded that “there is no clear association between water fluoridation and overall cancer incidence or mortality” and there is “little effect on fracture risk,” in fact, “it may lower overall fracture risk”. The statement recommends fluoridation of drinking water as “the most effective and socially equitable means of achieving community wide exposure to the caries prevention effects of fluoride”.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Thornton on 20 April (WA 337), how they reconcile South Central Strategic Health Authority's decision, given the support of 28 per cent of respondents by one measure and 32 per cent by another during the recent consultation on water fluoridation in the Southampton area, with the assurance given by Lord Warner that “fluoridation schemes would only be introduced where the local population were in favour”. [HL3358]

We have full confidence in the South Central Strategic Health Authority's (SHAs) judgment. The legislation requires SHAs to take account of the cogency of the arguments made during a consultation. In his advice to South Central SHA, the Director of Public Heath noted that the consultation highlighted the challenge of discussing public health issues in the age of the internet where people need to try and evaluate the mass of information available on water fluoridation, some of which is unreliable and inaccurate. The results of the telephone survey showed that a quarter of those people who opposed water fluoridation did so because of a fear that it would damage their health, but successive research studies have found no association between water fluoridation and systemic illness. The survey also found that 69 per cent of respondents had little or no knowledge of fluoridation.