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Jeff Sutherland

Twice the Energy with Half the Stress

Another Expert on the Payroll Misrepresenting Studies to the Public

Harvard dentist investigated

School launches probe after accusations that faculty member misrepresented fluoride-cancer study

The Harvard School of Dental Medicine announced last week that it is investigating a faculty member after the watchdog Environmental Working Group (EWG) accused him of misrepresenting a study by a former student that reported that fluoride in drinking water increases the risk of bone cancer in young boys.

According to the EWG, Chester Douglass, Harvard’s chair of the Department of Oral Health Policy and Epidemiology, said in a report to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) that the still-unpublished study, by former student Elise Bassin, showed that there was no relationship between fluoride and bone cancer.

However, EWG’s Mike Casey told The Scientist that a summary of Bassin’s work, now available on the EWG Web site, showed exactly the opposite, suggesting that Douglass is “misrepresenting, quite badly, research that he signed off on.” As to the researcher’s motives for doing so, Casey noted that Douglass is the editor of a newsletter called the Colgate Oral Care Report, funded by Colgate-Palmolive, which makes fluoride-containing toothpaste.