weird ‘science’ letter of the week

Some of my colleagues over at Sciblogs (NZ) publish the occasional ‘crazy science’ letter. I thought I would join them, having just read the following in one of our local free papers.

Fluoride and Viagra – what do they have in common? As it turns out, a lot.


Well, no, only to those armed with little biological knowledge & a tendency to conspiracy theories.

Water fluoridation was sold to us as the ‘magic pill’ to prevent tooth decay. The sugar producers were thrilled. Now we could eat as much sugar as we liked and not worry about our teeth.

Nice straw man there. I doubt the sugar producers were ‘thrilled’, & to my knowledge no-one promoting fluoridation has also advocated eating a poor diet.

But whoops – what happened next? Diabetes. But don’t worry, there is a ‘magic pill’ for diabetes. The more insulin we take, the more sugar we can eat.

No evidence here of cause-&-effect. We’re not provided with data that might show any putative relationship between the uptake of fluoridation and an upswing in diabetes. There is a link between ‘westernised’ diets (not simply sugar intake) & diabetes: Nauru has one of the highest incidences of diabetes in the world, much of it related to diet although there also appears to be a genetic link. But I could find no indication that Nauru’s water supply is fluoridated…

Plus there’s a lack of distinction between the two types of diabetes. While type 2 diabetes is related to – & to a certain extent, can be controlled by – diet, type 1 diabetes is not. The writer also appears unaware that insulin is not a magic bullet: insulin-dependent diabetics have to be very careful indeed regarding their diet & certainly don’t see it as a means to gobbling sugar.

Pharmaceutical companies were thrilled – no need to change our diet and cure ourselves of diabetes. Bring on the sugar.

Again, a straw man argument. Not to mention that changing the diet won’t provide a cure for type 1 diabetes. On the other hand, doctors will actively encourage those at risk of developing type 2 to change their diets (& exercise regimes) as in some cases this can eliminate the need for drug treatments.

But whoops – 10 years on, diabetes drugs have taken their toll and there is something not up in the bedroom. No problems – where’s the Viagra ‘magic pill’? And bring on the sugar while you are at it.

Actually it’s the untreated diabetes that is more likely to have the implied effect… And of course, our writer is ignoring the fact that a multitude of factors – including simply growing old – can impact on bedroom performance. Some may use Viagra to help deal with this, some may not.

Isn’t there something wrong with this picture? How about we do what we are supposed to do – eat properly. Tooth decay is nature’s way of giving us a timely message. Tooth decay is easier to fix than diabetes, heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure.

Nice attempt there to imply that all the health problems listed are a direct result of fluoridating a water supply.  There is, however, a reasonably strong correlation between at least three of them and aging. I wonder what nature’s message there might be?

How about we nip our health problems in the bud and stop focusing on the wrong things? Water fluoridation is not about tooth decay. Hexaflurosilicic acid is a waste product that is being disposed of in our drinking water. Ask Mr Google and find out for yourself.

Perhaps the writer would care to tell us what water fluoridation is ‘about’?

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