Mass medication: the debate rages on and on

by frog

I see in today’s Sunday Star Times that the Government is rethinking its plans to force bread makers to put folic acid into all of our bread supplies. This comes after a Chilean report that shows increased incidence of cancer since they started requiring that wheat flour be fortified with folic acid some years ago.

Good on the Government for pausing to consider. The fact that 13.8% of boys and 8.2% of girls ages between five and eight in NZ would end up exceeding the upper level of intake if we go this way may be putting more kiwis at risk than those such a programme would protect. (I don’t know this for fact.)

The real irony here for me is that most of our “mass medication” regimes do not consit of medicines at all – but rather dietary supplements, which allopathy often scoffs at!

This debate applies to things like fluoridation and to a lessor extent to mass vaccination programmes, and I think will continue to divide communities for generations to come. Vaccinations can be opted out of easily, but fluoridation in water, folic acid in bread, vitamin D in Milk (USA),and  iodine in salt (many countries); all these things are much harder to opt out of without going to great expense.

What do you think? It is always a question of balancing probabilities based on the latest science, which itself could change, against personal choice, against issues of the common good. And all this has to be thought out over the long term. A bit like global warming, really.

frog says

Published in Health & Wellbeing by frog on Sun, May 17th, 2009   

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