Juliet Pratt Speaker Auckland  

Juliet Pratt, of Auckland, also spoke against the use of mercury amalgam fillings, questioning why the Ministry of Health believed the only safe place to store mercury was in the mouths of children.

Doctor blames mercury fillings for ill health

Wed, 13 May 2009 Otago Daily Times

A Whangarei doctor says his studies of hundreds of patients show that mercury amalgam fillings in people's teeth could be responsible for a lot of unexplained illnesses.

Damian Wojcik has been studying possible mercury poisonings after he started suffering health problems in 1992.

He told Parliament's health select committee yesterday he then started to suspect some of his patients could be suffering from mercury poisoning.

He said his suspicions were backed up by research and literature published by respected organisations overseas, such as the World Health Organisation and Health Canada.

He started testing patients specifically for mercury and since then had collected information on between 600 and 700 patients. He published research in 2006 on data collected from 456 patients who had been clinically tested for mercury poisoning.

Mostly the source of mercury was identified as coming from fillings, he said.

Some patients had their fillings replaced and went through a detoxification process and their health improved over those who chose not to do so.

Statistical analysis showed the probability of their health improvement being down to chance was only in 10 million, he said.

Most follow up research in similar studies only lasted 30 days but Dr Wojcik said he was following up on average 41 months when people really began to show signs of improvement.

He believed that 21 percent of the population were more at risk because genetically their bodies could not get rid of mercury.

Mercury amalgam had always been considered inert and stable but when it was left in distilled water it gave off mercury, he said.

Radioactive tracing showed the mercury turned up in the thyroid gland four minutes after ingesting and it was in the rest of the body's organs within 30 days.

Even drinking a hot cup of tea saw base line mercury levels increase up to 400-fold and 80 percent of that was breathed in, he said.

But dentists and Health Ministry officials are standing by the use of mercury amalgam.

Director-general of health Stephen McKernan told the Dominion Post last week the ministry was confident that scientific evidence continued to support the use of amalgam as a safe, effective and affordable means to treat tooth decay.

The Dental Association's David Crum said amalgam's benefits outweighed the "very low level of risk" associated with it.

"Patients can be assured that their amalgam fillings, whether old or new, have not been shown to constitute a threat to their health."

But another doctor, Paul Butler, told the committee people with health problems that could possibly be attributed to mercury would see a GP rather than their dentist.

Dentists were not aware of the problem and GPs were not looking for any problems with mercury amalgam, he said.

There were a lot of documented cases internationally of mercury poisoning, such as the phrase "mad as a hatter" (hat makers who went crazy through using mercury in their trade hundreds of years ago), mercury poisoning at Minamata Bay in Japan and Iraqis poisoned by mercury-based fungicide in the 1970s.

"But there continues to be a question about the danger of mercury amalgam in the mouth."

Juliet Pratt, of Auckland, also spoke against the use of mercury amalgam fillings, questioning why the Ministry of Health believed the only safe place to store mercury was in the mouths of children.

Mrs Pratt had 40 amalgam fillings, as well as three gold fillings and a metal plate. They started reacting and "the current was pretty high", she said.

She said she had suffered chronic fatigue syndrome and it wasn't until she had her mercury amalgam fillings removed that she got her health back.

She has presented a 1400-signature petition to the Government calling on it to immediately prohibit the use of mercury amalgam dental fillings for children and pregnant women and phase it out entirely by the end of 2013.

Juliet Pratt Speaker Auckland

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