ArticlesRead articles from New York Times, Espn - Etc
Mercola Natural Health Articles
I’ve written about the collusion between industry and the U.S. federal regulatory agencies on many occasions throughout the years, and how industry-funded research simply tends to promote and support the industry agenda rather than shed truthful light on the benefits or risks of any given product.
In recent years, the hidden influence of The Coca-Cola Company over health and sugar science has been highlighted several times and, according to recent findings, it appears the company has not changed its secretive and deceptive ways, despite public assurances of transparency.
Documents obtained via Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests reveal Coca-Cola’s research agreements with certain universities give the company questionable rights over the research process, while other FOIA documents show Coca-Cola has an unreasonable amount of influence over the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Truly, having a public health organization that protects and supports industry rather than looking out for public health is worse than having no public health protection agency at all, and making health decisions on Coca-Cola funded research is bound to lead public health in the wrong direction — which is exactly what’s been happening.
Coke’s Research Agreements Allow It to Bury Unfavorable Findings
Big Soda’s core message has been that the obesity epidemic is driven by a lack of activity, as opposed to indulging in sugar-based foods and beverages, despite overwhelming scientific evidence you will never be able to out-exercise your diet.
Recent FOIA documents obtained by the nonprofit consumer and public health watchdog organization U.S. Right to Know (USRTK) offer an explanation as to how the company can influence research to support and promulgate this false idea.1,2,3,4 As noted in a commentary in The British Medical Journal:5
“The research team, from the University of Cambridge, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the University of Bocconi, and non-profit group US Right to Know, looked at five research agreements made with four universities: Louisiana State University, University of South Carolina, University of Toronto, and the University of Washington.
They found that, although the contracts show that Coca-Cola does not have day-to-day control of the research, it has various rights throughout the process … This is despite Coca-Cola’s website stating that ‘in no event does The Coca-Cola Company have the right to prevent the publication of research results’ …
The authors are now calling on corporate funders to publish lists of terminated studies and on scientists to publish industry agreements to show that their findings are free from influence.”
Just how much influence do the agreements grant Coca-Cola? According to the featured paper,6 published in the Journal of Public Health Policy, the research contract provisions give Coke:7
- The right to review and comment on studies before publication
- Intellectual property rights connected to the research8,9
- Control over study data
- Control over disclosure of results
- Control over acknowledgment of Coca-Cola funding, meaning the company could prevent the researchers from disclosing that their funding came from Coke
- Power to terminate studies early for any reason, including no reason
Coke-Funded Science Cannot Be Trusted
In a USRTK press release, Gary Ruskin, co-director of USRTK and co-author of the paper, commented: 10
“These contracts suggest that Coke wanted the power to bury research it funded that might detract from its image or profits. With the power to trumpet positive findings and bury negative ones, Coke-funded ‘science’ seems somewhat less than science and more like an exercise in public relations.”
Marion Nestle, Ph.D.,11 professor of nutrition and public health at New York University and author of “Soda Politics,” in which she dissects the many ways in which funding from the food and beverage industry influences scientific results, calls the USRTK findings “jaw-dropping.” She told Inverse:12
“It demonstrates what we have all long suspected. Companies that sponsor research make sure that they get what they pay for. The study documents the involvement of Coca-Cola in many aspects of developing research projects.
It is no surprise that its funded research typically comes out with results that are useful for Coca-Cola marketing purposes. Industry funded research is marketing research, not scientific research.”
High Time for All Branches of Science to Mandate Preregistration of Studies
Since September 27, 2007, Section 801 of the Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act requires any clinical trial being undertaken to be registered, and summary results must be submitted to ClinicalTrials.gov13 regardless of the outcome of the study. The reason for this is to help prevent publication bias where only positive findings see the light of day.
Unfortunately, this law only applies to certain clinical trials of drugs, biological products and medical devices,14 and while researchers in many other fields have taken to preregistering their studies,15,16 which means they must also publish their results, it’s not a blanket requirement across the board.
As of yet, preregistration of trials is not a requirement for nutritional research, although there’s a movement toward it. As noted in the 2015 editorial “Goals in Nutrition Science 2015-2020,” published in Frontiers of Nutrition:17
“[T]here is a general movement in science for ‘Transparency and Openness Promotion,’ formalized in ‘The TOP Guidelines.’18 The guidelines recognize eight standards: citation, data transparency, analytic methods (code) transparency, research materials transparency, design and analysis transparency, preregistration of studies, preregistration of analysis plans, and replication.
These standards aim to improve the communication of science, allowing improved understanding and replicability of results. Because the TOP Guidelines are being adopted across fields of science, the field of nutrition will not have to act in isolation to improve its scientific practices. Instead, we can build on and work with the minds and resources coming from a spectrum of scientific inquiry.”
Another paper, 19 “Best Practices in Nutrition Science to Earn and Keep the Public’s Trust,” published in January 2019, also highlights the TOP (transparency and openness promotion) guidelines that call for preregistration of studies.
On a quick side note, the first analysis20 of preregistered studies reveals there’s been a sharp increase in null findings, suggesting the practice is working as intended.
As reported by Nature, “Studies that preregister their protocols publish more negative findings that don’t support their hypothesis, than those that don’t.”21 This is important, because when mainly positive studies are published, it can easily create the false appearance that the evidence for a particular treatment is far stronger than it actually is.
CDC Colludes With Coca-Cola to Deceive You
Earlier this year, another batch of emails obtained via FOIA requests (after USRTK sued the CDC to get a response) revealed Coca-Cola was actively lobbying the CDC “to advance corporate objectives rather than health, including to influence the World Health Organization,” USRTK said in a post on its website,22 adding that the documentation demonstrates “a need for clearer policies on avoiding partnerships with manufacturers of harmful products.”
These documents, featuring correspondence between Coca-Cola executives and the CDC, can be found in the USCF Food Industry Documents online archive.23,24 A paper25,26,27,28 detailing the connections between Coke and the CDC based on the email cache was published in The Milbank Quarterly in January 2019.
In a press release announcing the publication of the paper, USRTK said:29
“Coca-Cola’s contact with the CDC shows the company’s interest in gaining access to CDC employees, to lobby policymakers, and to frame the obesity debate by shifting attention and blame away from sugar-sweetened beverages …
‘It is not the proper role of the CDC to abet companies that manufacture harmful products,’ said Gary Ruskin, co-director of U.S. Right to Know. ‘Congress should investigate whether Coca-Cola and other companies that harm public health are unethically influencing the CDC, and subverting its efforts to protect the health of all Americans.’
‘Once again we see the grave risks that arise when public health organisations [sic] partner with manufacturers of products that pose a threat to health,’ said Martin McKee, professor of European public health at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.
‘Sadly, as this example, and more recent ones in the United Kingdom show, these risks are not always appreciated by those who should know better.’”
CDC Official Helped Coke Influence World Health Organization
In March 2015, WHO published a new sugar guideline that specifically targeted sugary beverages, calling them out as a primary cause for childhood obesity around the world, especially in developing nations, where the soda industry is now aggressively expanding its reach.
WHOs recommendation to limit soda consumption was a huge blow to an already beleaguered soda industry, struggling to maintain a declining market share amid mounting evidence identifying sweetened drinks as a primary contributor to the obesity and diabetes epidemics.
Email correspondence between Alex Malaspina, a former Coca-Cola scientific and regulatory affairs leader and the founder of the food industry-funded group International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI), and Barbara Bowman, Ph.D., then-director of the CDC’s Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention, revealed Bowman repeatedly tried to help Malaspina get an audience with WHO officials, with the aim to talk them into relaxing the sugar limits.30,31
As noted by the USRTK,32 while Bowman’s job was to prevent obesity and related health problems, she “appeared happy to help the beverage industry cultivate political sway with the World Health Organization.”
Bowman left the agency at the end of June 2016, just two days after the initial reports about her cozy relationship with Coke were made public,33 which suggests she understood full well how inappropriate her behavior was.
This case also highlights the reality of corporate loyalty. As reported by the Huffington Post,34 early in her career, Bowman worked as a senior nutritionist for Coca-Cola. She also co-wrote one of the editions of a nutritional book published by ILSI.35
It’s human nature to remain loyal to former employers and colleagues, which is why the revolving door between industry and the agencies that regulate them is so problematic. People don’t shed their corporate mindset just because they get a government title and a new set of responsibilities.
Latest Coca-Cola Funded Study Again Blames Inactivity for Childhood Obesity
Coca-Cola and other soda makers have invested a lot of money in research and PR efforts aimed at protecting sales through misdirection. Coca-Cola in particular has worked hard to make it seem as though they’re concerned about public health while secretly undermining real efforts to improve it.
For example, a historical analysis36 published in 2016 found the sugar industry funded research that identified dietary fat as the culprit in heart disease, not sugar, and didn’t disclose that funding.
A 2017 study37 revealed that while sponsoring 95 U.S. health organizations, Coke was lobbying against public health bills aimed at reducing soda consumption through taxing, sugar limits and other strategies.
Coca-Cola and many other junk food manufacturers are also notorious for funding — and thus influencing — food and nutrition conferences and education.38
Most recently, a Coke-funded study39 published in the International Journal of Obesity January 31, 2019, evaluated “the single and joint associations of objectively measured moderate-to-vigorous physical activity and sedentary time on week and weekend days with obesity in children from 12 countries …”
They concluded the odds of obesity were highest among those who got the least amount of physical activity on both weekdays and weekends. Children with the lowest odds of obesity were the most active throughout the whole week. As noted by Nestle in her Food Politics blog:40
“This is another paper from the ISCOLE study funded by Coca-Cola, that seems to be aimed at casting doubt on the idea that sugary beverages might promote weight gain. Instead, these results suggest that physical activity is a more important factor.
Of course physical activity is important for health, but doesn’t expend nearly as many calories as is usually needed to compensate for soft drink intake. I learned about this study from a Weighty Matters blog post41 by Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, who runs a weight management center in Ottawa.
In his view, the ISCOLE study ignores evidence42 that childhood obesity is a determinant of physical activity, ‘not the other way around.’ He also questions the ‘no influence’ statement in the funding disclosure, on the basis of emails43 between ISCOLE investigators and Coca-Cola that not surprisingly suggests that these relationships have the very real potential to influence the framing of results even if funders [are] not involved in study design.
As I discuss in ‘Unsavory Truth,’ the influence of food-industry funders appears to occur at an unconscious level; investigators do not recognize the influence and typically deny it.”
By Stuart Cooper, Campaign Director, Fluoride Action Network
Ending the addition of hazardous fluoridation chemicals — primarily hydrofluorosilicic acid — to the public's drinking water will be one of the greatest public health achievements of the 21st century.
With each passing month, the case against artificial fluoridation builds as new research showing harm is published, legal action advances, overfeeds and spills are exposed and local fluoride-free campaigns spread throughout the world.
Mounting Evidence of Harm
A number of significant studies — two of which were funded by the U.S. government (the National Institutes of Health, or NIH) — have been published in the last eight months linking fluoride exposure to lowered IQ, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and thyroid problems, and showing that pregnant women and infants in "optimally" fluoridated communities are exposed to significantly more fluoride than those in non-fluoridated communities.
In February 2019, a string of news stories — triggered by a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report1 admitting that at least 40% of children are overexposed to fluoride — focused on kids swallowing too much toothpaste and neglected the significant exposure from fluoridated tap water.
Regardless, the defenders of water fluoridation are missing the real story. Dental fluorosis is a biomarker of overexposure to fluoride and the "elephant in the room" is what damage fluoride is doing to other tissues.
Recent scientific research indicates that exposure to fluoridated water may lower thyroid function,2,3 particularly in those with an iodine deficiency. A new study also found that significantly more infants, particularly those under 6 months of age, will exceed the upper limit set by the Institute of Medicine for fluoride when consuming formula reconstituted with the "optimal" 0.7 parts per million (ppm), greatly increasing their risk of side effects.4
There are now over 350 published studies on fluoride's effect on the brain: 130 human studies, over 200 animal studies and 33 cell studies. This includes a major U.S.-government funded mother-offspring study conducted in Mexico City.5 This rigorous study — which controlled for many possible confounders — found a very strong association between fluoride levels in mothers' urine and lowered IQ for their offspring.
The fluoride levels in this study also correspond to levels in pregnant women living in "optimally" fluoridated areas in Canada according to an October 2018 paper.6
The same research team at University of Toronto's Dalla Lana School of Public Health has since released additional findings that confirm and strengthen their 2017 fetus/IQ study.7 Very young children, aged 1 to 3 years, also show loss of IQ. In other words, their study now covers the ages of the offspring from 1 to 12 years.
For the ages of 1 to 3 years, for every 1 mg/L increase in the urine fluoride level of their pregnant mothers, the children averaged 2.4-point lower IQ scores. The finding was statistically significant and accounted for potential confounding factors.
They concluded, "Our findings add to our team's recently published report on prenatal fluoride and cognition at ages 4 and 6–12 years8 by suggesting that higher in utero exposure to F has an adverse impact on offspring cognitive development that can be detected earlier, in the first three years of life."
This was followed up by another published paper that linked higher levels of urinary fluoride during pregnancy with more symptoms of ADHD9 — the second study to do so.10
World Expert on Lead Now Warns of Fluoride's Neurotoxicity
As if the recent research condemning fluoridation couldn't get any worse, a major review article in the journal Pediatric Medicine by David Bellinger, Ph.D., professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School, has included fluoride in a list of chemicals known or suspected to interfere with the neurodevelopment of children.11
Bellinger, recognized as one the leading experts in the world on the neurotoxicity of lead, holds three important positions in Boston: two at Harvard and one at Boston Children's Hospital.
In his review of fluoride's neurotoxicity, Bellinger cites the meta-analysis of 27 IQ studies from China and Iran;12 a follow-up study in China he co-wrote13 and the more recent U.S. government-funded mother-offspring studies from Mexico City.14,15
While the mainstream media covered the Choi meta-analysis from 2012, they have ignored all the major neurotoxicity studies published since then. Meanwhile, they continue to go overboard on low-quality studies that focus on tooth decay.
According to Paul Connett, Ph.D., Fluoride Action Network (FAN) director, "We hope that when more pediatricians read about these important neurotoxicity studies — especially the mother-offspring studies — that they will warn women of child-bearing age to avoid all sources of fluoride during pregnancy and parents not to bottle-feed their infants with formula prepared with fluoridated tap water."
Help FAN's Precedent-Setting Neurotoxicity Lawsuit
These new scientific findings further strengthen the evidence of fluoride's neurotoxicity. The fluoride levels at issue in these studies are within the range that pregnant women in the U.S. are receiving, so the findings are clearly relevant to our ongoing legal case against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
In November 2016, the FAN together with a coalition of organizations and private citizens, presented a petition to the EPA calling on the agency to exercise its authority to prohibit the addition of fluoridation chemicals to the public's drinking water supplies under Section 21 of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).
The EPA dismissed our petition, which prompted our coalition to file a lawsuit in U.S. District Court. Since then, we've had several significant legal victories. First, Judge Edward Chen denied the EPA's motion to dismiss the case. Second, the judge denied a request by the EPA to prohibit our attorneys from obtaining internal documents and our experts from using the recently published studies mentioned above.
The third victory came in October 2018 when the EPA objected to sharing internal documents — or allowing their employees to be deposed — about their acknowledgment of and concerns about the known risks associated with fluoridation. Judge Chen ruled the EPA had to share this crucial information (see the Judge's full ruling).16
Yet another victory came in April 2019 when the court compelled EPA to both produce further documents and produce three more of its scientists for deposition.
We are now entering the final phase before our historic trial begins. The judge originally scheduled the trial for the beginning of August 2019, but due to the recent government shutdown, the federal court was also closed and the trial has been moved back several months to late 2019 or early 2020.
In the meantime, our legal team will continue conducting the discovery phase, interviewing EPA officials and collecting internal documents. FAN urgently needs your help to ensure we can provide the funding necessary for the foremost scientific experts in the world to present the best case at trial.
The primary expense at this point is the experts, who will need to spend considerable time preparing reports, preparing for their depositions and testifying in court. To fund these specific legal costs, FAN is currently running a spring fundraiser.
You can follow it on social media using the hashtag #FluorideLawsuit. So, please consider becoming a supporter of our historic legal action by making a tax-deductible donation today that will be doubled for a limited time.
Fluoridation Overfeed Sickens Hundreds
The latest research isn't the only fluoridation fiasco being ignored by the media and the dental lobby. Fluoridation-related accidents, malfunctions, overfeeds and worker errors have shockingly become commonplace. The most recent example is the current fluoridation crisis and negligent actions of elected officials occurring in Sandy, Utah.
A power outage during a snowstorm in Sandy February 6, 2019, caused a pump to flood parts of the town's drinking water system with dangerously high levels of fluoridation chemicals, with city officials saying possibly up to 150 ppm.
The fluoridating chemical released in Sandy — hydrofluorosilicic acid — apparently caused the corrosiveness of the water to increase dramatically, causing leaching of unsafe levels of lead, copper and other heavy metals from plumbing.
A public health official claimed neurotoxic harm from lead only occurs as the last stage of poisoning. Actually, in children, neurotoxicity occurs at levels below where symptoms of lead poisoning appear.
Possibly the most egregious act of negligence committed was the removal of "Do Not Ingest" from the initial warning to residents. The utilities director removed the words intentionally after consulting with representatives of the state health department, but has yet to explain his justification for doing so, even to the mayor and citizens.
The mayor has since placed the utilities director, Tom Ward, on paid administrative leave to "restore the public's confidence," in the water system. The city was also cited by the State Division of Drinking Water for failing to notify the public adequately and for exceeding safe fluoride levels.
The mayor and city council voted to open an independent investigation into how the malfunction occurred and how the city responded. Both county and state legislators have called for an investigation of fluoridation in Salt Lake and Davis counties, as well as a moratorium on the practice throughout Utah.17
The mayor of Salt Lake City stated that unless state legislators ban the practice, by law Salt Lake area voters must make the decision with a question on the ballot. In response, FAN sent a letter to the mayor and other public officials asking for a detailed health investigation.
The fluoride incident February 5 to 7 reportedly caused levels at homes to reach way over 100 mg/L, a level close to what caused a fatality and serious illnesses in a previous overfeed accident in Alaska. A level of 100 mg/L is 25 times greater than the EPA standard and 150 times greater than the normal level for water fluoridation.
FAN points out that government officials downplayed possible health effects. Officials said fluoride does not accumulate in the body and therefore should cause no long-term effects. This is incorrect, as 50% of ingested fluoride is retained and can raise the body-burden for years.
The health investigation that followed the Alaska fluoride poisoning incident found elevated fluoride and abnormal clinical blood measures weeks after the exposures had ceased.
FAN has requested that a thorough health investigation be conducted, similar to that for the Alaska incident, with added attention to lead and other heavy metals. The mayor's office replied that he would seriously consider our request and get back to FAN.
Fluoridation Accidents Are Too Common
Pro-fluoridation officials have responded by claiming that accidents like this are very rare. As usual, their claim is factually incorrect. Fluoridation-related accidents happen on a regular basis, endangering millions of residents.
FAN has put together a list of 50 accidents that have occurred primarily since 2000 and have been reported by media outlets. These even include two accidents in the Salt Lake City area that hospitalized a water worker, contaminated a local stream and killed wild animals.
As you view our accident list, keep in mind that many go unreported. I suspect this list could easily be doubled or even tripled with additional research into U.S. Department of Transportation rail and trucking accident records, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) records and state groundwater records.
Also keep in mind that a fluoridation accident or overfeed doesn't have to occur to cause leaching of heavy metals from the drinking water infrastructure. It happens with the so-called "optimal" level of fluoridation additives as well.
Moms2B Avoid Fluoride
The Fluoride Action Network believes that it is urgent for pregnant women to be warned of this potential and avoidable threat to their baby's intellectual development. Because government authorities are failing to issue such warnings, FAN has begun this campaign to warn expectant mothers to avoid fluoride — especially fluoridated water — during pregnancy.
Fluoride is added to approximately 70% of public drinking water systems across the U.S. as nonconsensual dental treatment. The greatest exposure to fluoride for the majority of Americans comes from drinking fluoridated water and using it in food preparation to make soups, rice, coffee, tea, infant formula and more.
What water should I drink if I am pregnant? — Find out here
Questions & Concerns? Check out the Q & A
While ending public water fluoridation is the proper response and ultimate solution to this health risk, it's important that we work to reduce the harmful effects of the practice while it's still in effect. A crucial part of this effort is warning people who are particularly vulnerable to fluoride's toxicity.
With your help, we can educate the next generation of parents, so they can take action to avoid fluoride exposure during this critical time in the development of their child. Consider taking these first steps to help spread the Moms2B Avoid Fluoride message, so that expecting mothers can act to protect their children:
- Learn about the campaign.
- Like the campaign on Facebook.
- Help spread the word by distributing our flyer and sending a letter to the editor of your local newspaper.
- Learn what other steps you can take.
State and Local Campaign Momentum Continues
If the dental and chemical lobbies had their way, you would never know about the millions of people who live in communities that have successfully fought to prohibit the addition of fluoridation chemicals to their drinking water.
Fluoridationists would like us all to believe that the practice is continuing to expand and that the trend is firmly in favor of more towns initiating the practice. However, this is just more propaganda, as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's own stats and our records of community victories have affirmed.
Since 2010, approximately 250 communities representing approximately 7.2 million people have chosen — either by referendum or by council vote — to prohibit fluoridation (see list of local victories).
More than 500 communities throughout the world have ended existing fluoridation programs or rejected new efforts to fluoridate since 1990, adding millions more freed from fluoridation.
Most of these victories were the result of citizens organizing local campaigns and voicing their opposition to public officials, with many working in coordination with FAN or using our materials to educate their neighbors and local decision-makers about the serious health risks associated with the practice.
These numbers don't even reflect the residents who have been spared from countless attempts to pass statewide fluoridation mandates in recent years, which FAN has helped defeat. In 2018 alone, four separate mandate bills in Hawaii and New Jersey were met with significant opposition and failed to even pass out of the first committees where they were considered.
If passed, over 5 million people would have had fluoridation chemicals forced upon them, regardless of local opposition and at the expense of taxpayers with no say in the matter.
Our data also show that 79% of community or council votes on fluoridation in the U.S. over the past five years were prompted by residents or officials calling for an end to fluoridation, not for implementation of it. And every attempt to initiate fluoridation has been at the request of dentists and their lobbyists, not independent residents.
It's crucial we maintain this momentum, so we can ensure that fluoridation becomes a thing of the past for you and the world. FAN is dedicated to creating more resources for campaigners, providing more analysis on key studies, recruiting more professionals to support local campaigners, raising greater awareness in the media and among decision-makers and assisting advocates for safe water around the globe with their campaigns.
New Educational Materials
A couple examples of new educational resources we've been working on: FAN recently created a video series to provide the public and decision-makers with a basic understanding of fluoride, to dispel myths surrounding fluoridation and answer common questions.
The series, "Fluoride Fundamentals," currently includes four short videos — with more on the way — that have been incredibly popular on social media, particularly our video detailing where fluoridation chemicals come from; now with over 150,000 views on Facebook. We suggest sharing these videos on your own social media pages, with decision-makers, family and friends.
We also have three new "one-pager" handouts available to quickly educate your community and local officials. We plan to continue publishing new and updated handouts throughout the year, so follow us on social media and sign up for our emails to get them as they're released.
FAN Is Working for You
The dental lobby is not going to let artificial water fluoridation end without a drawn-out fight. This means it's up to concerned citizens and educated health professionals like yourselves, along with groups like the Fluoride Action Network, to protect the public from unnecessary and harmful exposure to fluoride.
Please support our efforts by organizing locally to help end fluoridation, by sharing our message with others and by making a tax-deductible donation of any size.