FiveThirtyEight Calls Case Against Fluoridation “Weak”
FiveThirtyEight.com is a widely read blog that was started by statistician Nate Silver. Although Silver gained fame by using opinion polls to predict political outcomes, his website recognizes the power of research and data to help us make better decisions in a wide range of areas. Health and wellness is a good example.
Community water fluoridation is a topic that has sparked a long list of claims, rumors and allegations. FiveThirtyEight’s Emily Oster decided to examine the research and evidence that are cited by people on both sides of the issue.
Oster tackles a variety of claims that opponents make about fluoridation, including a group of studies that supposedly link low IQ scores with fluoride. She points out that these studies “largely rely on data from China, and the variation in fluoride levels there arises not from community water fluoridation but from natural variation in the water’s fluoride levels.” According to Oster, the biggest flaw in those Chinese studies is that the high fluoride levels are far higher than the concentration used to fluoridate drinking water in the United States.
“The bottom line is that if you want to build a case against water fluoridation — and, apparently, many people do — it is possible to do so,” writes Oster. “But the case is weak. The risks are small, and the public health benefits are big.”