research blames mercury fillings for ill health
14/05/2009 - 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 on Wednesday 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,
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,
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,
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
"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
"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.