More Peskin Fish Tales

by Steven Carney on November 24, 2014

This is post #114 on the site, about another biased, unscientific fish-oil study by Brian Peskin and SCIRP (Scientific Research Publishing). His review attacks fish oil as a supplement and claims that fish oil is carcinogenic, especially for prostate cancer. Ridiculous, of course! Prostate cancer has many causes but fish oil is NOT one of them! NOTE: if you came here from another domain, welcome (see update below).

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I started this second Peskin debunk on October 24, 2014, shortly before another Peskin review was retracted on October 30. This new Peskin debunk is based on his ridiculous, unscientific study, the SELECT review called, SELECT Trial Results Examined: Why Fish Oil, DHA and “Oily Fish” Are Inflammatory, Leading to Increases in Prostate Cancer, Epithelial Cancers and CVD.

Like the previous Peskin review I debunked (and was eventually retracted by Hindawi, another pay-to-play publisher), this review was published by the open access, pay-to-play publisher called Scientific Research Publishing (SCIRP.org), specifically, their Food and Nutrition Sciences (FNS) journal. This review has similar content (sometimes verbatim) and citations to the previous anti-fish oil review by Peskin.

Peskin’s Hindawi anti-fish oil review was retracted on October 30, 2014 after I exchanged about 15 e-mail messages to Hindawi, including a link to a final, 18-page rebuttal with 75 links (Peskin’s Fish Tale a Whopper?) linked below in the Peskin history section. I include it because it offers additional background relevant to this rebuttal. Peskin’s Fish oil and 21st Century Lipids was a bogus review on many levels. And that review was submitted shortly after this was review was accepted, in September 26, 2013, explaining the similar content.

The purpose of this post is to expose the biased foundation of Peskin’s work. I also expose the incompetent peer review system at FNS and SCIRP, along with their constant solicitations for me to send them money to publish my complaint (it’s clear that SCIRP is really a cash-to-publish company). It’s checkbook science!

Peskin’s reviews are all based on his bias, beliefs and business interests. Peskin uses and abuses science for its appearance and trappings, but science is not the foundation of his work. And below, you will see that SCIRP violates the COPE guidelines for ethics in research, in spite of their website claims that they follow the COPE guidelines.

In fact, Peskin is involved in several non-fish oil EFA/omega-3 formulas, book sales, speaking tours, interviews, etc., including online promotions of his business activities and patents on his formulas. He is building his career and business ventures based on his special brand of pseudo-scientific, anti-fish oil views and reviews. Here are just a few of his business-oriented sites:

http://www.brianpeskin.com/

http://www.naturalhealingtools.com/yes-efas-liquid.aspx

http://www.buzzhealth.co.uk/products/yes-peo-capusuls

http://www.peskinpharma.com/

http://www.peo-solution.com/

Peskin’s Scientific Research/FNS journal review is titled SELECT Trial Results Examined: Why Fish Oil, DHA and “Oily Fish” Are Inflammatory, Leading to Increases in Prostate Cancer, Epithelial Cancers and CVD, and it demonstrates his infamous, pseudo-scientific approach.

Peskin piggy-backs this anti-fish oil commentary onto an anti-omega-3 study rehash of the old SELECT trial. The 2013 SELECT rehash is another biased, non-interventional, recycled study with no omega-3 fats or fish oil given, tracked or monitored, yet it claims that omega-3 fats increased prostate cancer. In other words, SELECT does not provide a scientifically credible platform to support Peskin’s claims. Rather, SELECT matches Peskin’s entrenched bias so he uses it.

The established science behind omega-3 fats, covering many hundreds of studies, does not support Peskin’s exaggerated, unfounded claims, it undermines them. And the SELECT rehash is itself riddled with bias and poor methodology; it reflects the anti-supplement bias and nutritional ignorance of its authors (see quote below). The study scapegoats omega-3 fats as a cause of high-grade prostate cancer, a claim that ignores reality, established science, and the real causes of prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer (covered in more detail below), like most cancers, a multi-factorial disease that is decades in the making, not just a few years of a study rehash where no omega-3 fats or fish oil were even used. The entire premise is unscientific, but it provides a perfect platform for Peskin’s bias, beliefs and business goals. At times, he uses fawning language in his review, like he wants the admiration of its authors.

Peskin quickly reveals his anti-fish oil stance in the first few lines of his abstract when he misstates the basis of both the SELECT and Prostate Prevention rehash studies, calling them trials and conflating poorly-done retrospective, associative studies for interventional trials:

In July 2013, using data and plasma collected in the Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT), results were shown consistent with prior results of the controversial 2011 Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial. Both trials exhibited unexpected associations: 1) Fish oil and fish oil’s DHA significantly increase prostate cancer in men; in particular, high grade prostate cancer. . .

In his rush to demonize fish oil, Peskin misstates the research designs of the 2 studies: neither was a prospective, interventional trial designed to study fish oil and any possible connections to cancer. Neither study included any fish oil or fish intake in any form. 

Both studies are rehashed, retrospective exercises from different cancer drug and supplement studies that didn’t focus on fish oil at all. Additionally, there was no measuring or tracking of fish intake in any subject. Dietary intakes were also not tracked. In short, the SELECT authors have no idea of any subject’s fish or fish oil intake.  

Peskin unscientifically assumes that the levels of omega-3 fats in plasma must all be from fish oil, a demonstrably false conclusion (links/info below will show why this is a highly unscientific and false).  

And this passed the Scientific Research peer review? How? I’d like to know who did the peer review on Peskin’s work, and what level of competence, background and training they have. This rebuttal will expose how little credibility Peskin’s work has. Only a highly gullible person would get caught up in Peskin’s unscientific language and exaggerated claims!

The SELECT rehash was quickly debunked

When the SELECT rehash was released in mid-July, 2013, its conclusions and headlines were debunked and rebutted by many health experts, including me. The author bias was obvious right in the press release:

“We’ve shown once again that use of nutritional supplements may be harmful,” said Alan Kristal, Dr.P.H., the paper’s senior author and member of the Fred Hutch Public Health Sciences Division.

Many debunkers have observed Kristal’s quote and the anti-supplement bias it exposes in the SELECT rehash (which continues throughout the study). This associative, retrospective work is an outlier compared to other fish oil studies that show less cancer risk and lower inflammation with fish oil intake. I include many links below that show fish oil lowers inflammation it doesn’t raise it!

Compare to larger VITAL study

The VITAL study was also done by Brasky (same author involved in the SELECT rehash) with 35,000-plus subjects, the VITAL supplement and prostate cancer study was done in 2011. That extensive study showed no such associations or relationships for fish oil and increased cancer. Here is the main VITAL finding (see link below):

Multivariate-adjusted hazards ratios (HR) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) were estimated by Cox proportional hazards models. Any use of grapeseed supplements was associated with a 41% (HR 0.59, 95% CI: 0.40-0.86) reduced risk of total prostate cancer. There were no associations for use of chondroitin, coenzyme Q10, fish oil, garlic, ginkgo biloba, ginseng, glucosamine, or saw palmetto. . .

Of course, Peskin ignores that study and its findings. I ran a check of his SELECT review PDF file and the VITAL study is completely left out. Why? Like most other studies on fish oil, it undercuts Peskin’s bias, beliefs and business interests. He consistently omits all competing studies to further his business interests. He does this routinely, as the analysis and 80-plus links below will show.

Here is a link to that large, Brasky VITAL trial. It found no increase in cancer for fish oil with over 35,000 subjects:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21598177

My SELECT rehash history

I debunked the SELECT rehash thoroughly in 2013 after it was released during the July sweeps (to maximize media attention). Indeed, mass media hyped and exaggerated the claimed findings with their usual hysterics and theatrics: Fish oil causes cancer!

That study and media campaign still represents a real low for so-called medical research. And you will soon see that the study details expose unmistakable bias and pseudo-science in the work (more details and links below).

Even so, Peskin is in need of the few studies that fit his own unscientific, oft-proffered claims about fish oil dangers, claiming fish oil is worse than trans fats (that’s a big clue for how specious Peskin’s claims are). This SELECT rehash study offers a perfect platform for Peskin, with its biased, retrospective, associative nature, packaged in unfounded, exaggerated claims that omega-3 fats cause cancer when they clearly do not.

More bias in Peskin’s Introduction

Peskin uses the biased SELECT study, and promptly misstates the study designs. He jumps to unfounded conclusions about fish oil as the sole origin of omega-3 fats (omega-3 fats can come from veggie oils, nuts, seeds, etc., not just fish oil, something he knows because he has his own EFA supplements).

Let’s take a few sentences from Peskin’s review Introduction, where he writes the following paragraphs (citation numbers removed to avoid confusion):

Evidence is presented that the country with the highest consumption of fish oil (predictably) experiences the most prostate cancer [Australia]. Lastly, a possible explanation is presented why analysis did not show carcinogenic transfats to be causal to prostate cancer.  

Prostate cancer is the most diagnosed cancer in men. The 2011 Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial demonstrated that the high concentration of serum phospholipid of long-chain metabolite, ù-3 series [omega-3] fatty acids was associated with a large increase in the risk of high-grade prostate cancer.

These paragraphs again expose Peskin’s manipulative, pseudo-scientific approach. The evidence for the quote’s first paragraph is from an article cited in his section 10.2 from the Nutraingredients site. It’s an article about the fish oil industry on a global scale. The focus is the economic impact and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) comparisons for different countries, a focus which has no relationship to health research or cancer statistics for fish oil supplements. Peskin connects the economic report to some 2008 stats found in the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) archive. He makes a totally unscientific connection to make his point! Let’s dig a bit deeper.

Peskin assumes that all the fish oil in the GDP article is for supplements. But that’s false! The full GDP article shows that a significant proportion of fish oil is used for areas outside of supplements, including animal/fish food, food manufacturing and fortification, infant formulas, drugs, and other uses. These non-supplement uses account for 35-40% of that total GDP usage for fish oil (supplements are only about 50% of total consumption). That alone undercuts Peskin’s claim significantly. But there’s more.

Peskin assumes that only men use fish oil in Australia? What about all the women and children who use fish oil supplements? (studies show more women use supplements compared to men). 

Here are several links that show that women use more supplements compared to men (they are more health conscious). Women also tend to have higher levels of omega-3 fats:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24724775

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15286019

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23327902

Here is an important caveat from that WCRF site, explaining why prostate cancer (PC) rates seem to be rising in Westernized countries, including Australia (Note: most cancers don’t have a simple blood test to detect cancer):

Incidence rates for prostate cancer have increased in recent years. This has been largely due to the increased availability of screening for prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in men without symptoms of the disease. The test detects many prostate cancers that are small and /or would otherwise remained unrecognised and which may or may not develop further into higher stage disease. One reason for the high rate in some countries is the frequent use of PSA testing.

So Peskin’s work manipulates critical details about fish oil GDP usage (by ignoring significant uses beyond supplements) and the appearance of PC rates, just like he does throughout his reviews, because again, the details in studies and articles often undercut his pseudo-scientific positions and extreme bias.

Ironically, Peskin complains that associations are not causations right in his abstract, just a few sentences above his Introduction, which is exactly what he just did with global GDP fish oil usage and PC rates:

Pre-21st century studies mistook irrelevant associations for cause/effect relationships, disregarding known incontrovertible science. . .

Here are some links to remind people about the meaning of associations, correlations and causations (and often the resulting exaggerations like Peskin’s):

http://www.drbriffa.com/2012/08/15/note-to-medical-researchers-correlation-does-not-prove-causation/

http://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2012/11/19/what-causes-disease-association-vs-causation-and-the-hill-criteria/

Peskin’s double standard is expansive and obvious: He bases his review on the biased SELECT rehash, itself a non-interventional, associative, retrospective, poorly-done analysis, based on that single blood sample from the previous SELECT trial from the early 2000s (remember, SELECT studied selenium and vitamin E, not fish oil).

SELECT cannot (and does not) prove any causal connection between fish oil and prostate cancer because it was a non-interventional, associative, retrospective exercise in number crunching that had no connection to fish oil!

Peskin adds to his hypocrisy when he claims it’s predictable that the country that uses the most fish oil has the most prostate cancer. Peskin’s astonishing, unscientific claim demonstrates his flimsy evidence and unscientific leaps of logic, driven by his bias, beliefs and business interests: the claimed association is simply invented.

It’s also disproven by many studies that show the true risks and causes of prostate cancer (PC), and by the many studies showing fish oil has anti-inflammatory mechanisms, shown in the links below.

If you remember the quote above from the WCRF, showing the critical, but unrelated reason why prostate cancer rates seem higher in Western countries is simply more PSA testing (again, Peskin ignores that critical detail).

That same page on the WCRF site showing higher rates from PSA testing, shows that Asian countries have the lowest rates of PC. But studies show that those same cultures have much higher intakes of fish and seafood than Westernized countries, with expected higher levels of omega-3 fats.

So Asians have higher rates of fish consumption/omega-3 fat levels, yet they have some of the lowest incidence and death rates from PC (only about 25% of the rate of more Western countries).

These scientific realities again undermine Peskin’s thesis and claims. And Peskin seems to have no grasp or understanding about the true, established risks and multifactorial causes of cancers, including PC.

What does the American Cancer Society (ACS) say about prostate cancer (PC)?

Here is the ACS list of the main risks for prostate cancer:

  • Age (65% of all prostate cancers are in men over 65 years old)
  • Nationality, including North American, European, Australian
  • Family history (especially if a first degree relative had it)
  • Diet (especially from red meat and dairy)
  • Genetics
  • Obesity
  • Smoking

Notice that fish oil and omega-3 fats are NOT listed nor would they be expected to be. They clearly don’t cause cancer and there is no mechanism that explains how or why they would, in spite of Peskin’s endlessly unfounded hype and claims.

Peskin irrationally sees fish oil as the cause of many diseases, claiming it’s carcinogenic and causes cardiovascular disease, while he ignores the overwhelming scientific evidence of cancer’s multifactorial origins and decades of time. That includes the lack of immune health to destroy cellular mutations. The truth is that we all fight cancer mutations every day, unless our immune system is not working at its best.  

These research links explore various dietary, lifestyle and country connections to prostate cancer development (none support Peskin’s ridiculous claims for fish oil as a cause):

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20843485

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24584961

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3720164/ 

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25264293

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18951003

http://zerocancer.org/learn/diet-and-lifestyle

http://www.prostate-cancer.com/location-prostate-cancer.html 

http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/disparities/cancer-health-disparities

http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/media/releases/chronic_inflammation_linked_to_high_grade_prostate_cancer

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/150086.php

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-02-04/cancer-now-biggest-killer-in-australia/5236148

And this quote and link from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) shows that U. S. prostate cancer rates have been declining for over a decade and are on a downward trajectory:

Since the early 1990s, prostate cancer incidence has been declining. Mortality rates for prostate cancer also have declined since the mid-1990s. 

http://www.cancer.gov/researchandfunding/snapshots/prostate

And these links showing broadly established risks and causes of cancer (again, no fish oil):

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/info/cancer-oncology/

http://www.news-medical.net/health/What-Causes-Cancer.aspx

In the second paragraph quoted from Peskin’s introduction, he clearly didn’t read the study because again there were no omega-3s, fish oil or fish used in that Cancer Prevention trial (remember, omega-3 fats can come from fish oil, or be converted from veggie oils, nuts and seeds or other sources). 

And in spite of Peskin’s claim of a “case-closed” connection for high omega-3 intake for Australia and New Zealand, resulting in more prostate cancer, the study links below show that the most consumed fats in Australia are saturated fats from meat and dairy, both high-risk dietary factors for prostate cancer from the list above. Australians also have an unhealthy ratio of omega-6 to omega 3 of 9:1, with low overall intakes of omega-3 fats. These truths again undercut all of Peskin’s early claims. 

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17468090

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12848284

The above studies and summaries expose Peskin’s unscientific, dishonest approach and exaggerated claims early in his review, a pattern which continues throughout: it permeates his work (more proof and links below). His claims are unproven and pseudo-science at their core, yet this review was published by Scientific research! How did this junk review pass a peer review?

I will include many more links below that show that fish oil lowers inflammation, it doesn’t raise it. Nor does fish oil increase peroxidation, it lowers it, again contrary to Peskin’s later review claims (many debunking links below). First, some perspective on Peskin’s history.

Peskin’s troubled history

Brian Peskin has quite a history of misrepresentations, illegal medical claims and other problems. For example, he had to sign an injunction with the state of Texas and pay a fine of $100,000 U.S. Peskin’s work is also full of serial exaggerations, heavily dosed with unproven claims and fiction. Peskin sells books, has designed alternative supplements to fish oil, and does speaking and radio interviews to peddle his wares (a simple Internet search will bring up his many business endeavors). Peskin recently had a study with similar claims that fish oil causes heart disease and cancer retracted by Hindawi. 

These links offer some perspective on Peskin’s background and some previous work:

http://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/brian-peskin-and-essential-fatty-acids/

http://www.westonaprice.org/book-reviews/the-hidden-story-of-cancer-by-brian-s-peskin-and-amid-habib/

http://www.quackwatch.com/11Ind/Peskin/injunction.html

The link below is a detailed debunking of another Peskin review (now retracted) which includes this SELECT study rehash and his CVD study also published by Scientific Research (this post link also debunks section 6 of his review): 

http://www.endsicknessnow.com/peskins-fish-tale-a-whopper

What is Research Misconduct?

Although different organizations and countries have somewhat differing standards and definitions, this one from CODEX and the Medical Research Council is a reasonable description for research misconduct (see link below quote):

Misrepresentation of the research process in another way, for example through incorrect use of methodology, dishonest inclusion or exclusion of data, deceptive analysis of data that intentionally misrepresents their interpretation, or dishonesty toward granting authorities. . .

http://www.codex.uu.se/en/etik6.shtml 

Here are the COPE Retraction Guidelines (Committee on Publication Ethics) from The SCIRP website, which SCIRP claims to follow. The guidelines don’t allow for a do-over, which is how this ridiculous situation is being handled (here are some relevant points from the link below, ones that SCIRP and FNS are in violation of now):

Journal editors should consider retracting a publication if: 

  • they have clear evidence that the findings are unreliable, either as a result of misconduct (e.g. data fabrication) or honest error (e.g. miscalculation or experimental error).  .  .
  • [and] published promptly to minimize harmful effects from misleading publications

http://publicationethics.org/files/retraction%20guidelines.pdf

SCIRP and FNS are doing neither of these, in violation of their own guidelines!

Based on debunking Peskin’s work here and elsewhere, it’s obvious he consistently manipulates, misrepresents and distorts his reviews; he consistently excludes research and data that expose his bias. Peskin omits standard reference ranges and uses weak or conflicting citations. Most of his claims are unfounded and unproven. More examples and links below.

And later, I’ll also expose the non-responsive Editorial Board members for the Food and Nutrition Sciences journal at SCIRP who helped to stonewall my complaint. Based on their lack of care or concern for research misconduct in their journal, and their lack of interest in getting at the truth, I will expose their names, universities and credentials. There needs to be more accountability in science. Now back to the science.

Debunking the original SELECT trial

In order to understand why SELECT was often panned by health experts, let’s look at the original SELECT trial to uncover the details of its bias and poor methodology. SELECT was started back in 2001 (over 10 years ago) and ran for several years. SELECT looked at synthetic Selenium (SEL) and synthetic Vitamin E (E) in high doses in a Cancer (C) prevention Trial (T) to see if they would reduce the risk of prostate cancer in high-risk male subjects (ages 50 to 70-plus), including age, a PSA up to 4 ng/ml (which is quite high), etc.

The original SELECT study has been discredited for its obvious bias and poor methodology. The recycled/rehash version continues the same biased approach and analysis.

Here are multiple links that expose the bias and poor methods in the original SELECT trial:

http://www.wellnessresources.com/health/articles/flawed_select_study_attacks_vitamin_e/ 

http://healthtipsfromtheprofessor.com/selenium-vitamin-e-increase-prostate-cancer-risk/

http://www.northstarnutritionals.com/articles/vitamin-e-and-prostate-cancer/

http://www.naturalnews.com/033911_vitamin_E_prostate_cancer.html

http://engineeringevil.com/2014/02/22/vitamin-e-and-selenium-raise-cancer-risk-oh-really-let-us-disect-the-research-and-the-researchers/

http://drgeo.com/vitamin-researchers-are-idiots-vitamins-are-important

http://www.nutraingredients-usa.com/Research/Vitamin-E-selenium-may-alter-genes-in-prostate-cancer-Study

The 2013 SELECT rehash analysis: the pseudo-science behind Peskin’s review

Now that you know a bit more about the original SELECT study and why it lacked credibility, let’s look at the SELECT rehash, published in July, 2013. Like its predecessor, it’s rife with problems: 

It’s a misleading study based on a recycled, retrospective analysis (looking back at a different study’s data and recycling it into new, often faulty conclusions, because the original study was based on a different design and objectives). It’s an associative and non-causative study (no cause-and-effect conclusions can be drawn), so it’s ridiculous that Peskin uses it to build on as it proved nothing useful! This was not an interventional trial with fish oil; the data had nothing to do with fish oil or fish intake. There was only a single blood test taken initially for the previous SELECT study done more than a decade ago (a blood plasma test that measures only the last few hours of omega-3 intake that can originate from many sources, including veggie oils, nuts and seeds).

Additional Study problems:

Cancer, like HD is multi-factorial. It takes decades to materialize, with known risks of age, genetics, smoking, weight, diet, etc. Most damning is that the omega-3 levels in all the SELECT subjects were actually quite low compared to most fish oil users and the omega-fat differences between the cancer and non-cancer groups was not clinically significant (less than .025% difference).

The numbers were rehashed and exaggerated to ridiculous levels of over 71%, using Relative Risk to manipulate headlines, media coverage and the public. Critical confounders were not tracked effectively (such as diet, exercise, smoking, alcohol use, prescription drug use, weight, etc,), and the strongest associations for cancer subjects were obese subjects who were also smokers and drinkers (remember the main PC risk list above and what lifestyle factors are more likely to be the cause of cancer). See more research details below.

The SELECT rehash of those previous subjects who already had diagnosed prostate cancer had to rely on relative comparisons, not hard numbers (again, this was not a trial using fish oil so there was no ability to compare actual dosages or omega-3 source intake and cancer incidence). They could only analyze relative levels of assumed omega-3 fats from a single bloolid test and then create the associations to cancer. None of these subjects probably got their high grade cancer because of any fish or fish oil. It’s all assumptions built on more assumptions and the associations are unproven, weak and easily disproven.

As I observed in a previous debunking of Peskin’s lipid review on Hindawi, he selects only studies that support his bias, beliefs and business goals. He uses them very superficially, mainly focusing on their abstracts (often the initial summary of the study), while not addressing or properly analyzing the full study, including critical details, limitations, positive outcomes and relevant citations.

Peskin continues to seem like a research amateur with a checkbook ready to pay and a career to build. And again, how did Peskin’s review pass a peer review? Did the reviewer have no background in research, nutrition or cancer risks/development? Did they even do a peer review?

Data analysis from SELECT and Peskin’s review: more bias and poor science

Many expert debunkers (including doctors and PhDs, see numerous links below) have exposed key discrediting issues for the SELECT rehash, including the fact that the subjects in the rehash all had relatively low levels of omega-3 fats (not high levels), as measured by that single plasma lipid blood test at the beginning of that trial (enrollment back in 2001 to 2004). So even those who were claimed to have high omega-3 levels had relatively low levels of omega-3 fats in their plasma, again undercutting all of the SELECT rehash and Peskin’s overblown review claims. 

The blood plasma test used is an older-style test and is only measures short-term fat intake, a test that measures what was probably eaten within a few hours of the test. As there was only a single test, the associative outcome had to be grouped in relative-terms (as in, these subjects had more cancer than those subjects) because again, there was no fish oil or fish intake ever given or tracked; there were no dosages to chart over time to make more direct, credible comparisons.

Here is a quote from a Life Extension analysis, describing the problems of the short-term lipid test used and why it’s a poor basis to extrapolate any meaning from (see link below):

Remember, plasma phospholipid testing for fatty acids was used in this study. However, this type of fatty acid testing can vary widely depending upon short-term dietary intake. In contrast, long-term uptake by cells and tissues of the body is far less dependent upon short-term changes in diet. For this reason, the omega-3 RBC equivalence score is far better at evaluating cellular uptake over time as a result of fish ingestion and fish oil supplementation.  

There was only one baseline blood draw. The men were followed up to six years (low-grade and high-grade cancer), with a smaller group followed up to nine years to see who would get high-grade prostate cancer. Those who developed prostate cancer were then compared against their baseline blood draw done years earlier. 

This fact also undercuts the associative study and exaggerated headlines because there were no additional tests or means to assess the subject’s dietary habits and/or of fish oil/fish intake and how those might have affected their PC.

The tests should have been done several times per year at least, along with detailed dietary intakes (but remember, SELECT was never designed to use fish or fish oil so none of this was done).

Another confounding variable is that many dietary fats, including those from nuts, seeds, veggies, veggie oils, beans and animal products like eggs can be converted to omega-3 fats via the Alpha-Linolenic Acid (or ALA) conversion pathway in the body. This means that some of the claimed omega-3 fats probably came from other sources like nuts, seeds, veggie oils or dairy! They really don’t know the source of the omega-3 fats from that single test and neither does Peskin!

In fact, a low fat diet can raise omega-3 levels via conversion of ALA. But again, none of these dietary habits or food intakes were tracked, rendering the single, initial blood draw from the early 2000s as meaningless and wholly inadequate as a reliable data source over the many years of the SELECT rehash. Can you begin to see the poor science behind this SELECT rehash and why the results are misleading?

Here are some links showing some of the foods with ALA that can be converted to omega-3 fats:

http://www.prostate.net/nutrition-cancer-diet/foods-that-contain-ala/

http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/omega-3/ 

If you wonder why the inaccuracy of one-time plasma tests can skew the SELECT rehash results, here are additional and important details from the Life Extension article linked below:

Now look how narrow the difference is between men with higher prostate cancer rates. In the group whose average baseline blood draw showed 4.48% plasma long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, there was no increased prostate cancer risk. But if the omega-3 percentage average went up to 4.66% (about 1/5 of one percent), prostate cancer rates skyrocketed, according to the report’s authors.  

We’re talking here of a difference of 0.18% in the percentage of plasma omega-3 fatty acids that supposedly caused a 43% to 71% increase in prostate cancer incidence. Dedicated fish oil supplement users, on the other hand have over 100% higher omega-3 levels than seen in this study of men who apparently consumed little cold-water fish and no omega-3 supplements.  

To put this into real-world perspective, the trivial difference (0.18%) in plasma omega-3 between men with no prostate cancer and those with prostate cancer could occur if a man ate just a few ounces of a cold-water fish like salmon the night before. 

This quote is telling! The SELECT authors (and Peskin) want us to believe that some servings of salmon cause prostate cancer! Apply a bit of common sense to this absurd idea. Based on Peskin’s claims, a single meal of healthy fish can cause a small rise in blood plasma, and you get prostate cancer.

Now consider this quote from Dr. William Harris who similarly helped to debunk the SELECT rehash study results so embraced by Peskin (citation numbers removed to avoid confusion, see link below):

Dr. Harris cited extensive literature on fish intake and higher omega-3 fatty acid intake that demonstrated a lower incidence of prostate cancer incidence and death, better survival among men who already had prostate cancer, and a reduced risk of aggressive prostate cancer.

Furthermore, citing World Foundation of Urology data, he noted that the incidence of prostate cancer is high in North America and Northern Europe (among Caucasians and African-Americans (63 and 102 per 100,000, respectively) but low in Asia. With the Japanese intake of omega-3 fatty acids at about eight-fold that of Americans and with their blood levels twice as high, one would expect a higher risk. However, the Japanese prostate cancer rate of 22.7 per 100,000 in 2008 was dramatically lower than the U.S. rates of 83.8 per 100,000. 

The Brasky article stated that the mean percentage of total omega-3 fatty acids (EPA + DPA + DHA) was 4.66% (range, 4.56%–4.75%) in cancer patients. 

“These omega-3 levels,” according to Dr. Harris, “were far lower than would be expected from individuals taking omega-3 supplements.”

And here is a quote from Dr. Murray, MD, offering additional insight and perspective on this bogus work (see link below):

The study was not new but merely an elaboration of a 2011 study (SELECT) that showed, implausibly, that higher levels of omega-3 in the blood cells were associated with higher risk of prostate cancer and that more trans fats in the cells conferred protection against prostate cancer! It follows that the dietary recommendation that would logically ensue from this finding would be: stop eating fish and start eating hydrogenated margarine and Crisco to prevent prostate cancer.  

Of course we know that’s not true. Harvard’s Walter Willett, one of the world’s pre-eminent nutrition researchers, once estimated that consumption of trans fats was responsible for at least 60,000 additional cancer deaths per year in the U.S. alone! Biologically, there’s no plausible reason to suspect that too much omega-3 could be cancer-causing. Mere observational studies that present no credible mechanism of action are considered low on the totem pole of academic credibility. But they don’t teach that in journalism school. . .

Additionally—and sorry, this gets a little technical—the study purports to be “case-controlled”— which means that the non-cancer group was identically matched to the cancer group with respect to all variables except omega-3 levels. This is said by trialists to provide a study with more statistical “power.” But several research experts—and they are far more sophisticated study analysts than I am—have pointed out that, curiously, the subjects in this study were not matched as to smoking status, race, weight and diabetes as well as several other important variables that affect prostate cancer risk. 

And here is a quote from Dr. William Davis, MD and Cardiologist, regarding the values in the SELECT rehash, making similar observations about the weak, even misleading data (see link below):

First, the reported EPA+DHA level in the plasma phospholipids in this study was 3.62% in the no-cancer control group, 3.66% in the total cancer group, 3.67% in the low grade cancer group, and 3.74% in the high-grade group. These differences between cases and controls are very small and would have no meaning clinically as they are within the normal variation. Based on experiments in our lab, the lowest quartile would correspond to an HS-Omega-3 Index of <3.16% and the highest to an Index of >4.77%). These values are obviously low, and virtually none of the subjects was in “danger” of having an HS-Omega-3 Index of >8%. So to conclude that regular consumption of 2 oily fish meals a week or taking fish oil supplements (both of which would result in an Index above the observed range) would increase risk for prostate cancer is extrapolating beyond the data.

Here is another telling quote from the first link below. It’s from Medscape and Dr. Chodak, a Urologist, and he also has a video. He debunks the study and poor methodology with great detail and credibility (see link for full content):

The bottom line is that we cannot determine from this study design whether the intake of omega-3 fatty acids will cause prostate cancer and raise a man’s risk for high-grade disease. The media has taken this and sensationalized the risk associated with omega-3 fatty acid intake, but I believe that the attention is overplayed and the concerns about the study design were not mentioned at all. At the end of the day, this study does not prove that intake of omega-3 fatty acids causes prostate cancer or increases a man’s risk for high-grade disease.

Do you begin to see that the very underpinnings of this SELECT trial rehash, with its stunning bias and Peskin’s add-on review are all poorly-done science? Like a house built on a weak foundation, the walls are now full of cracks and the doors don’t open! The wild claims do not pass any test of credible science, careful methodology or search for truth in research. And Peskin, with his usual sloppiness, exclusion of normal reference ranges or more replicated research embraces it!

I could add quotes from each of the numerous links below and it would be 15 pages more! So please review the following links to gather the complete picture of why so many experts debunked this bogus fish oil and prostate cancer study as biased junk and non-meaningful science. 

As I said earlier, Peskin is drawn to studies like this because it’s these outliers that support his own clear and undisputed biases against fish oil. Most other studies run counter to Peskin and this SELECT rehash. Here are numerous links that debunk the SELECT rehash study Peskin relies on, including more detailed breakdowns of the data that show why the study is simply not credible:

http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/808402 

http://www.lef.org/featured-articles/2013-08_Fish-and-Prostate-Cancer-Risk-Fact-or-Fiction.htm

http://www.cureality.com/blog/post/2013/07/18/omega-3-fatty-acids-likely-not-associated-with-prostate-cancer.html

http://drhyman.com/blog/2013/07/26/can-fish-oil-cause-prostate-cancer/?utm_source=WhatCounts+Publicaster+Edition&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=drhyman+newsletter+issue+%23135&utm_content=Get+the+story+…#close 

http://doctormurray.com/how-a-selected-bad-study-became-big-news/ (click on Read more)

http://drhoffman.com/article/something-fishy-this-way-comes/

http://www.integrativecanceranswers.com/do-fish-oils-really-cause-prostate-cancer/ 

http://www.nutraingredients-usa.com/Research/Experts-slam-omega-3-link-to-prostate-cancer-as-overblown-scaremongering 

http://www.marksdailyapple.com/fish-oil-prostate-cancer/#axzz3HCzTdjlZ

http://www.anh-usa.org/flawed-study-fish-oil-cancer/

http://www.wellnessresources.com/health/articles/fish_oil_prostate_cancer/ 

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3828934/

http://www.crnusa.org/CRNPR13-Omega3071113.html 

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/research-review-fish-oil-prostate

http://www.publicity.com/press-releases/the-truth-about-the-fish-oil-study/ 

http://www.nutraingredients-usa.com/Research/A-Whale-of-a-Fish-Story-for-Omega-3s

http://www.nutraingredients-usa.com/Research/Not-just-industry-slamming-omega-3-prostate-cancer-links

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/07/31/omega-3-fats.aspx

A study comparing plasma and RBC tests for omega-3 (EPA/DHA) levels after fish and fish oil consumption (something Peskin doesn’t provide): 

http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/86/6/1621.full  

These studies counter SELECT’s results and Peskin’s claims:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23613715

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21310299

http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/79/6/935.full 

And here is a telling quote from the last link above (full study, citations removed to avoid confusion, broken into 2 paragraphs for easier reading): 

However, there is evidence that, compared with the intake of n−6 fatty acids, the intake of n−3 fatty acids suppresses so-called free radical diseases, such as cancer, ageing, and atherosclerosis, which suggests that lipid peroxidation in vivo may not correspond with that in vitro. For instance, several studies found that increasing the dietary intakes of EPA and DHA does not increase the oxidative susceptibility of LDL cholesterol. Moreover, Takahashi et al reported that genes coding for some antioxidant enzymes (eg, glutathione transferases and manganese-superoxide dismutase) were up-regulated in mice fed a fish-oil diet, which suggests a protective effect against the production of reactive oxygen species and thus against cancer initiation. 

Studies in healthy humans also showed that consumption of a diet providing >2.3 g EPA plus DHA/d decreases superoxide production. Inflammation has been hypothesized to increase the production of free radicals and reactive oxygen species, which leads to carcinogenesis. Although n−6 fatty acids augment these events through the overproduction of AA-derived proinflammatory eicosanoids, the n−3 fatty acids suppress inflammation and thus the overproduction of free radicals and carcinogenesis 

I added this link in March, 2015. It supports my debunking of Peskin’s SELECT review because it shows that fish oil/omega-3 fats can help to supress inflammation and prostate cell proliferation:

http://medicalxpress.com/news/2015-03-fatty-acids-prostate-cancer.html

Here are 2 key paragraphs from the study authors:

A 2013 study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that men with higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids in their blood had a greater risk of developing prostate cancer. It was not clear if the fatty acids came from food—certain fish, seeds and nuts are high in omega 3s—or supplements like fish oil.

Working with prostate cell cultures, Meier and two students, Ze Liu and Mandi Hopkins, found the fatty acids bind to a receptor called FFA4, for “free fatty acid receptor 4.” Rather than stimulating cancer cells, the receptor acts as a signal to inhibit growth factors, suppressing proliferation of the cancer cells.

Here are links to the original SELECT trial (for reference):

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19066370

http://www.cancer.gov/newscenter/qa/2008/selectqa

Here is a link to the newer rehash version, based on the initial lipid plasma testing:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3735464/ 

That vitamin B and omega-3 retrospective trial (once again, this is not an interventional trial for cancer but one that was done for heart disease, using heart attack, stroke and chest pain as endpoints), meaning the trial was not causative for any cancers but merely associative in nature:

http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1134841 

Here are some debunks of the previous 2011 Brasky study (also an observational rehash of a 1990s trial) again falsely linking omega-3 levels and prostate cancer (but again, no fish oil):

http://www.marksdailyapple.com/fish-oil-prostate-cancer/#axzz3HNxnfG5A 

http://www.publicity.com/press-releases/the-truth-about-the-fish-oil-study/

http://www.drfuhrman.com/library/omega3_cancer_risk.aspx

I hope this is sinking in. What is before you are multiple examples of research fraud and misconduct, tangled into a nest of ulterior motives including career, money and delusions of grandeur. But there is more to follow!

I must address a few more sample quotes in Peskin’s review, again showing his constant exaggeration and misstated research to make his biased case and support his business endeavors.

For example, in section 2.4, Peskin states the following:

In IOWA, the plant-based oils (described in section 4), overpowered all CVD confounding factors.

As shown below, the significant causal variable in SELECT was only the EPA/DHA amounts from fish oil/marine oil as measured in plasma.

The IOWA experiment was done by Peskin and was a small pilot study with 34 participants, divided into smaller groups, with NO direct comparison to fish oil. There was no credible study design, analysis or methodology outlined. It’s an extension of Peskin’s bias and beliefs, so naturally, he touts it like it’s a breakthrough. It looks more like a high school experiment.

Peskin’s IOWA experiment is also full of embarrassing self-congratulatory and boastful statements (see my previous article called Peskin’s Fish Tale a Whopper?), linked above for more details on IOWA). Basically, the 34 participants were broken down into smaller groups in his rather primitive study that mainly looked at arterial compliance in those small groups of subjects with no confounders or credible analysis included.

Like most pilot studies, it’s too small to prove anything by itself (pilot studies are often used to test a theory in a small group of human subjects), but in Peskin’s biased mind, it’s a scientific blockbuster? No credible journal would ever publish such a primitive bit of biased research (except SCIRP and FNS who allowed Peskin to include his biased IOWA experiment in his FNS/CVD review)!

Peskin goes on to claim that the causal variable in SELECT were the EPA/DHA from fish/marine oils. But as you might recall, there were no fish or marine oils used, dispensed, tested, or tracked in SELECT: There was NO causation shown; it was an associative, retrospective, non-interventional study that proved nothing! 

And remember that omega-3 fatty acids can be converted from other dietary sources, including veggies, greens, veggie oils, nuts, seeds, eggs, etc. Peskin’s statement is demonstrably false. Yet this passed the Scientific Research Publishing peer review? Who did this review? 

Similarly, in Peskin’s section 2.6 of his Scientific Research review, he makes the following false claim:

Furthermore, the 2013 JNCI article’s lead author (Dr. Theodore M. Brasky), in the 2013 analysis of SELECT, used two (2) blood draws in a separate prior trial, showing the same positive correlations between increased marine oil levels and increased prostate cancer cases.

Again, this claim is false, there were no interventions, intake or tracking for any marine oil, fish oil or dietary fish intake in the SELECT trial. Can you see how consistently manipulative and dishonest Peskin’s work is? Can you see how he abuses science for his personal and business endeavors? Again, how did this pass a peer review? Was anyone paying any attention during this so-called peer review done by Scientific Research staff?  

Here are credible, human studies and articles that show lowered inflammation for omega-3 fats, fish and fish oil, disproving Peskin’s central claim (notice the replication):

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22591892 

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25244229

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25285409

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25149823

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3575932/ 

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25150074

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25098909

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25328170

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16531187

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22640930

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21889886

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3278271/

http://researchnews.osu.edu/archive/omega3midage.htm

http://www.lef.org/magazine/2012/9/fish-oils-health-benefits/page-01

http://www.wellnessresources.com/health/articles/fish_oil_reduces_prostate_cancer_growth_in_humans/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24505395

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22591891

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21784145

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22051327

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4166426/

These studies all counter Peskin’s IOWA Experiment:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24401211

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22100606

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22005318

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19664302

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23425772

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10701816

Where are Peskin’s studies?

Given Peskin’s wild, unproven claims that fish oil is harmful, disease provoking or deadly from its quick oxidation under normal conditions (both at room temperature and in the body), I would expect him to provide numerous, replicated studies on modern fish-oil softgels from multiple manufacturers, testing the different softgels at different temperatures (such as 70, 80, or 90 degrees F or equivalent numbers in C), with different storage situations and expiration dates, showing their resulting peroxidation levels and expected, even proven harms to health. 

I would also expect him to provide large, credible clinical trials in human subjects that replicate credible blood or urine tests that show significant increased levels of peroxidation and ROS from fish oil supplements, with all confounders tracked and accounted for (stress, diet, smoking, inactivity, poor sleep, age, gender, prescription drug use, etc.), as all can contribute to levels of oxidative stress, and including all other FA intake. But where are Peskin’s studies?

Peskin provides no credible studies of fish oil softgel supplements or other replicated, credible human trials. Peskin ignores and excludes all the links I have included in this rebuttal, including many more study links with human subjects that undercut his peroxidation claims below.

For some broader perspective, here is a link to a Pubmed search for fish oil benefits in human trials. There are 13 pages, and over 250 citations (Peskin ignores all of this vast research material because it overwhelms his false, manipulative claims):

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=fish+oil+benefits+human+trials 

Peskin’s claims, assertions and citations read more like a work of science fiction then a work of science. His review is filled with unsupported theories and claims (in spite of his claims of proof everywhere), and serial exaggeration, all loosely strung together with often irrelevant side meanderings and obtuse or contradictory citations with little credible support or details. Can you see why Peskin’s unscientific review should never have been published?  

Peskin claims that fish oil becomes oxidized at room temperature and in the body but offers no real scientific proof or credible testing of that claim. The following links are to a range of human studies that actually tested fish oil peroxidation and oxidative stress in human subjects. Not only did they find no significant adverse effects or harms from fish oil/algae-based oils, many of these studies had beneficial outcomes that conflict with Peskin’s claims of harm, even at doses around 4 grams/day (Peskin claims these are overdose, even toxic amounts):

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24225668

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23952918

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22103753

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20540666

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14583341

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20303788

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22136711 (See full study link below)

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24077434

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16278686

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23010452

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10451477

http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2318/13/41/abstract

Full study for above abstract #22136711:

http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayFulltext?type=6&fid=8640341&jid=BJN&volumeId=108&issueId=02&aid=8640340&bodyId=&membershipNumber=&societyETOCSession=&fulltextType=RA&fileId=S0007114511005484

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22898566

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23238663

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21701083

As you can see, these studies show replicated effects, and many show the opposite effects for Peskin’s claims of fish oil dangers (no dangers or harms, multiple benefits, including lower inflammation and less oxidative stress). The research is probably 10:1 or 20:1 in favor of fish oils/omega-3 fats. That’s an indication that good studies are being replicated and junk ones like Peskin relies on are not being replicated. In short, there is little support for Peskin’s claims and much that contravenes them.

Why does Peskin’s review ignore all these studies and most of the science behind omega-3 fats? (I’m sure there are more.) As I said earlier, his work reflects his bias, beliefs and business interests. His work is driven by those motivations, not science or truth. What’s more, Peskin never shows us what supplement manufacturers do to address the claims he makes, again reflecting his sweeping, blinding bias.

What fish oil manufacturers have done for a decade 

I’m including this information to offer a better perspective on current (and past) industry practices. Peskin’s review does not include current or past industry practices, which also undercut his claims of oxidation. Some go back more than a decade, to the early 2000s.  

Back when Peskin was signing the Texas Injunction against his misrepresentations and illegal medical claims, along with the $100,000 fine paid to the state of Texas, industry was already working on standards for fish oil, including possible issues of oxidation or contamination. For example: 

  1. Nature Made, a brand of fish oil I’ve used, is independently tested for potency, bioavailability and purity by the USP (U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention), an independent testing organization for drugs and supplements.
  2. Nature Made said they add natural vitamin E as an antioxidant because they are aware of the potential for oxidation and they check the Anisidine value to monitor oxidation during shipping and storage of the raw fish oil. And their oil is made from wild fish, not farm raised.
  3. The fish oil is stored under nitrogen gas to minimize oxidation from air exposure. Once received at their final packaging facility, the fish oil is tested again and quickly encapsulated into a softgel to prevent oxidation.
  4. The softgel seals the fish oil and provides a barrier to keep out oxygen, which prevents the softgels from going rancid. They have ongoing testing of the softgels for possible oxidation going past their expiration date to make sure they are still healthy.
  5. Like most manufacturers, they recommend that the product be stored in a cool, dry place, and to use by the expiration date right on the label. And the version I use is the Triglyceride form, often more bioavailable then the ethyl ester form as outlined above.

More industry links for quality standards and testing

Here are links about common industry practices for fish-oil quality and safety. These undercut just about all of Peskin’s review claims of fish oil dangers or harms, based on claimed oxidation/peroxidation or inflammation (he seems to know nothing about what industry has done for over 10 years):

This link is to the IFOS and their testing standards (including peroxide, Anisidine, oxidation, heavy metals, etc. The IFOS has been around for 10 years, since 2004, and has certified many dozens of fish oil products):

http://www.nutrasource.ca/ifos/get-certified/what-ifos-tests-for.aspx 

An article showing that fish oil manufacturers have had quality and safety measures since the early 2000s:

http://www.nutraingredients-usa.com/Regulation/Omega-3-suppliers-hit-back-at-misguided-Proposition-65-attack 

The GOED site with information and strict standards for fish oil manufacturing. They also have many dozens of supplement members:

http://www.goedomega3.com/consumers

http://www.goedomega3.com/index.php/our-members/quality-standards

And the CRN debunking the 2010 fish oil lawsuit in California (settled long ago), which Peskin apparently supported or was involved in:

http://www.crnusa.org/CRNPR10CRNNoSafetyIssueswFishOil030210.html 

Many sections and citations from retracted Hindawi study

In this review, Peskin uses much of the same material and associated citations from his retracted Hindawi study. For example, Sections 3.1, 4.0, 6.0, 9.0, 12.1-12.5, etc., of this review are all similar to sections Peskin included in his Hindawi review, although with different section numbers. Some paragraphs are verbatim, as are many of his weak and conflicting citations.

And a thorough reading of Peskin’s SELECT review, sections 10, 10.1 and 10.2 show only big claims for inflammation and cancer but no credible or discernible connections to fish oil as the cause of inflammation! Again, did no one see these glaring errors? How did this ever pass a peer review?  

Did anyone at Scientific Review check Peskin’s citations carefully? I doubt it. They mostly lead to in vitro/lab or small mammal studies, most are old, or non-credible human studies (do reviewers at Scientific Research realize that only 10-25% of all in vitro lab research or studies on small mammals ever work in humans?). Here are some links that outline the lack of efficacy and reliability of lab and animal studies: 

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3902221/

http://www.neavs.org/research/limitations

http://www.independentsciencenews.org/health/the-failing-animal-research-paradigm-for-human-disease/

http://science.slashdot.org/story/13/02/12/1823238/drug-testing-in-mice-may-be-a-waste-of-time-researchers-warn

http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2014/04/08/298335701/how-mouse-studies-lead-medical-research-down-dead-ends

http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-experimentation/animals-used-experimentation-factsheets/animal-experiments-overview/

http://www.nature.com/news/misleading-mouse-studies-waste-medical-resources-1.14938

http://phys.org/news/2014-04-scent-mice-rats-stressed-male.html

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2846855/ 

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130716194952.htm

One typical example of Peskin’s poor citations is reference #63 from section 12.4, where Peskin claims the following: 

A 2000 study reported in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that plasma TBARS (substances which react to the organic compound thiobarbituric acid, and which are a result of lipid peroxidation) were >21% higher after fish-oil supplementation than after sun-flower-oil supplementation, and 23% higher than after safflower-oil supplementation.

As usual, Peskin makes this sound dramatic! But is it? This was a study done in 2000. How large was this 14-year-old study and how relevant is it to fish oil supplements today? It was a very small pilot study with 15 older women (no men). Sorry Peskin but with numbers that small, the results are merely hypothetical; they are not broadly applicable to thousands or millions of subjects as you might assume (I just provided numerous human studies replicating no or less oxidation from fish oil above). 

Credible human trials need hundreds to thousands of subjects with good replication before they can be considered proof. Here are some links to information about pilot studies, outlining their purpose and limitations, since it’s probably needed:

http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/119/13/1694.full 

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3081994/

https://explorable.com/pilot-study

And just saying something causes an increase in something compared to something else, what does that really mean for health? Peskin is fond of this kind of relative outcome as it provides him a platform to make big claims without putting them in context, normal reference ranges for blood or urine testing, confounders and lifestyle variables.

Peskin seems ignorant about how TBARS are affected by a host of lifestyle behaviors and status, including age, smoking, drinking, dietary habits, glucose levels, antioxidant status, stress, weight/obesity, exercise, hydration, cholesterol levels, arthritis, disease, etc. And most studies don’t do a good job at tracking these confounders, rendering small studies highly preliminary or outliers. 

Unfortunately for Peskin, the level of TBARS for the fish oil users appears to be normal, at 1.2 µmol/L (with a possible high level around 1.5, see links below). And what does the study title from the link he offers really say? Here is the title and several key discussion points from the full study: 

Supplementation of postmenopausal women with fish oil rich in eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid is not associated with greater in vivo lipid peroxidation compared with oils rich in oleate and linoleate as assessed by plasma malondialdehyde and F(2)-isoprostanes.

From the Discussion section:

The results of the assays of in vivo lipid peroxidation did not uniformly support the idea that increased numbers of double bonds in dietary PUFAs result in increased susceptibility to lipid peroxidation. In fact, the most specific indexes of lipid peroxidation used in the present study (F2-isoprostanes and MDA) were not higher after fish-oil supplementation than after sunflower oil and safflower-oil supplementation. . .

The fact that the results of the MDA and TBA assays suggested different conclusions regarding the effect of increased consumption of fish-oil on in vivo lipid peroxidation emphasizes the importance of the measurement issues raised by this research. Many of the assays available for the measurement of lipid peroxidation in vivo lose their utility when specific PUFA concentrations in plasma vary as a result of changes in dietary intake.

Now go back and read Peskin’s claim in 12.4 and his related citation. Does is have any impact at all? Is it proof of anything relevant and does it support his claims? Not when you have more detail and perspective, like the title (which undercuts his claim), discussion points and normal TBARS ranges, which also undercut his dramatic claims. In fact, as is often the case, the whole study actually undercuts Peskin’s theater and hype. Most of Peskin’s citations have similar problems. How come no one noticed at SCIRP and FNS?

Indeed, the quote outlines the author’s discussion regarding the challenges of these various tests, including variables, confounding factors and reliability. And again, they were using supplements in the year 2000. Of note is that the fish oil used was a very large dose (which Peskin would quickly say is a massive overdose at about 3.5 grams of EPA/DHA, about 6-10 times more than a normal fish oil softgel, which has about 300-500 mg of EPA/DHA). The fish oil used also included the preservative TBHQ, which also could have influenced the results (as indicated above, most modern fish oils add vitamin E).

As is so often the case with Peskin, he simply glosses over and manipulates study details and complexities, only seeing and presenting what he chooses to.

More about TBARS testing and their unreliability

And TBARS, a test Peskin refers to often in his reviews, is a complex and controversial test, including how to accurately interpret the results as the links below will show. Here is a quote from that abstract:

Thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS) and malondialdehyde (MDA) have been used as biomarkers of lipid oxidation for more than thirty years. The validity of these biomarkers has been rightfully criticized for a lack of specificity and problems with post sampling formation. Numerous assays have been published for their analysis giving rise to reference intervals for healthy non-smoking humans varying more than to [two] orders of magnitude [a huge variation]. 

Here is a link to the full study (Peskin only linked to the abstract):

http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/72/3/714.full 

In fact, these studies were also listed on the right side of Peskin’s cited research and as usual, they blunt or undermine his exaggerated claims (I include titles above the link):

Oxidation of plasma proteins is not increased after supplementation with eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10966891

Supplementation of postmenopausal women with fish oil does not increase overall oxidation of LDL ex vivo compared to dietary oils rich in oleate and linoleate.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11254753

A TBARS study with 166 health male subjects (and other links with normal/abnormal TBARS values):

http://hrcak.srce.hr/index.php?show=clanak&id_clanak_jezik=43162&lang=en

http://content.onlinejacc.org/article.aspx?articleid=1136107

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9249776

http://ndt.oxfordjournals.org/content/12/7/1399.full.pdf

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7779541

http://www.bmj.sk/2005/10610-03.pdf

Questioning the reliability of TBARS assay:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17336279

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3617959/ 

http://jn.nutrition.org/content/133/3/933S.full.pdf 

Here is a quote from the Discussion Section from the second link above:

In summary, this research demonstrates conclusively the inaccuracy that is inherent in TBARS assays, which claim to quantify MDA in biological tissues and fluids, and it is proposed that the continued reporting of such ambiguous data may limit the likelihood of detecting true differences in the level of lipid peroxidation in clinical studies. 

Here is a quote from the third link above (PDF file from November, 2014, page 936): 

The TBARS assay is a simple spectrophotometric assay that measures a chromogen that is produced by the reaction of thiobarbituric acid (TBA) with malondialdehyde (MDA), which is an endproduct of lipid peroxidation. The spectrophotometric TBARS assay is extremely easy to use, but is nonspecific in that many other substrates (e.g., aldehydes) can react with thiobarbituric acid. The lack of specificity with the simple spectrophotometric method has rendered it rather obsolete. Instead, most researchers today use an HPLCmodification of the TBARS method.

This TBARS section is classic Peskin when it comes to his big claims and weak citations. When you actually check what he cites, including all the details, it’s common that the study only appears to support his exaggerated claims but is often weak or undercuts his claims significantly. I found this problem often in Peskin’s Hindawi study, now retracted.

And I see that he used many of the same citations in this review, including numbers 64 and 65 which are quite unrelated to Peskin’s claims of room or body temperature spontaneous oxidation, both of which track back to comparative species metabolism and life span research. Those, in turn, track back to a 1954 in vitro study with little credibility 60 years later. Again, did anyone check Peskin’s citations to verify his wild claims? SCIRP reviewers, please tell me how reference numbers 64 and 65 support Peskin’s claim of spontaneous room temperature oxidation for modern fish oil softgels. 

And while you’re at it, please tell me where Peskin proves his claims with citation numbers 66 and 67 regarding cardiolipin as having any connection or relationship whatsoever to omega-3 fats or fish oil intake. Neither seems to be included in those reviews.  

Also, please explain how Peskin’s claim Numbers 13-17 prove his case about oils and cellular oxygenation. For example, numbers 13 and 14 are from 1925 and 1930. My prediction is that they don’t prove anything about fish oil supplements 80-90 years later. Citation #15 takes us all the way to 1956, and I only see a single page. Again, that’s almost 60 years ago and it couldn’t possibly have any connection to modern fish oils.

The real doozies are citation numbers 16 and 17. One is to Peskin’s own book and the other (#16) is from 1976, almost 40 years ago, and appears not to be a study at all (no parameters, subject profiles, numbers or findings shown). It looks like more of a theoretical commentary about cystic fibrosis patients and oxygen problems (CF patients have serious problems with thick mucus in their lungs and airways, leaving them struggling to breathe and oxygen deprived). Here is the authors’ conclusion:

Accordingly, excessive substitution of oleic for linoleic acid in membrane lipids would be expected to decrease the intracellular oxygen pressure to a level where hemoglobin oxygenation and any other oxygen-requiring processes would be impaired.

Here is a link with more about CF:

https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/cf/treatment

Once again, Peskin’s talk is big but I see no information or relevance to the SELECT trial or fish oil (all these citations are scientific dead ends). And notice that his use of his own 2011 book as a citation (#17), which has not undergone any scientific review or publication is not a credible or acceptable source, but Peskin loves to quote and cite his own, unscientific work in his reviews.

The same goes for citation number 20 from section 10, which is focused on trans-fats as being inflammatory (that’s hardly a revelation to anyone in the health field) but it has nothing to do with SELECT, fish oil or omega-3 fats. If anything, it undercuts Peskin’s claims about fish oil dangers.

Also, check citation number 37, along with all of his false skin cancer claims. You again find constant exaggeration and puffery but no credible support. Citation number 37 (which references a 30-year-old study) really doesn’t support his exaggerated claims in section 7.1. I’ve encountered that fisherman research he includes in section 7.1 and there is an issue with all-day sun exposure and skin cancer. Here is a limitation caveat included the abstract that once again, Peskin fails to mention (these are more likely causes of skin cancer, not fish oil): 

No significant association was found between the incidence of CMM [cutaneous malignant melanoma] and any of the dietary factors in men. Important aspects are residual confounding by sun exposure and social class, as well as concern with multiple comparisons. 

What about citation number 42 from section 8.1, as once again, Peskin exaggerates and manipulates the design and findings of a rather bizarre, short-term rat study from 1998 (reminder, we are NOT rats and we respond differently as the previous animal links show)! A few dozen rats either received a low-fat diet, fish oil or safflower oil diet, they were then injected with active cancer cells after 3 weeks. This is NOT how cancer develops in humans and this cruel experiment is irrelevant to human cancers (apparently, the rats on the oils diet were given 70% PUFAs). And as usual, Peskin embraces a poorly-done, irrelevant experiment to support his entrenched bias. 

What’s more, Peskin deliberately and deceptively misquotes the study design and findings in his review to demonize fish oil and make it appear that the safflower oil did well, but the study found that the omega-6 (safflower oil) diet also exploded liver metastases more than 500-fold. Here is the author’s conclusion:

In conclusion, omega-3 and omega-6 PUFAs promote colon cancer metastasis in the liver without down-regulating the immune system. This finding has serious implications for the treatment of cancer patients with fish oil diet to fight cachexia.

And did anyone check Peskin’s references #46 and 47 from section 8.2? The study was designed to look at people in France, up to age 80, with diagnosed CVD (chest pain, heart attack/MI, stroke, etc., within the last 12 months), with all endpoints related to CVD and many important confounders not well tracked.

These participants already had serious, chronic disease and complications, along with lifestyle contributions. For example, all subjects had high BP, more than 70% of subjects in each group were current or former smokers, and all had a BMI over 25 with fasting glucose over 95 (age, smoking and excess weight, high glucose are all known risk factors for cancer development). I found no summary of other important lifestyle habits like diet, exercise,  prescription drug use, etc. And just over 70% of the cancer cases were also in the current and former smoking category, showing a much higher association for smoking than for fish oil!

These subjects were given relatively low doses of a few supplements for a few years (based on questionnaire reporting, always a questionable method for accuracy) and expecting miraculous results! Anyone with a brain knows that this is a nonsensical and unscientific approach! The cancer rehash part Peskin focuses on was a secondary analysis and data manipulation of this prior trial of older sick people with heart disease and already at high risk for numerous cancers.

For some interesting perspective, here is the link, author’s conclusion, plus 2 quotes from their Comment/Discussion section for the secondary cancer analysis:

http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1134841

Conclusion: We found no beneficial effects of supplementation with relatively low doses of B vitamins and/or n-3 [omega-3] fatty acids on cancer outcomes in individuals with prior cardiovascular disease.

In total, 83.3% of the cancer incidence and 81.0% of the cancer mortality occurred in men (who represented 79.4% of the sample); however, neither type of supplementation produced any effects. Among women (about 83% of the women were menopausal), both types of supplementation had a tendency to increase cancer risk; however, these results were derived from very few cases and should be regarded as preliminary. . .

Overall, a replication of the models with larger cohorts of men and women is necessary. In summary, this study does not support dietary use of [low dose] B vitamins or n-3 fatty acids for cancer prevention. The preliminary evidence of adverse effects among women necessitates confirmation before firm conclusions could be drawn.

Reuters (citation #46) predictably over-hyped the weak, associative findings into the exaggerated and overblown comments Peskin makes, as he again excluded these cautionary comments from the study’s lead author, Valentina Andreeva:

.  .  .she cautioned against interpreting her statement or her group’s findings as meaning the fish oil pills were to blame for the increased cancer risk.

The study’s numbers are small and its design, intended to track heart disease, cannot show direct cause and effect regarding the cancers.

Yet Peskin climbs to his usual mountain top to loudly proclaim fish oil is responsible for cancer (in elderly French people who had preexisting risk factors for cancer). And once again, the above study was for a different design and purpose (serious cardiovascular disease), with critical details and limitations again ignored by Peskin, who again exaggerates 29 cases of cancer in older French women, with significat cancer risks like smoking as a blockbuster discovery that we must absurdly blame on fish oil! How unscientific can a person be?

Pre-2007 Studies Were Poorly Conducted and inconsistent with the Science 

Peskin is fond of saying that and he used it in his retracted Hindawi review. Yet he often uses and cites studies that are decades old, again showing his bias, hypocrisy and double standards, so Peskin should be forced to remove all of his claims and citations that are based on pre-2007 research!

In short: Peskin’s review is an exercise in grandstanding, bias and pseudo-science that demonstrates research misconduct and deception over and over. As other’s have observed, Peskin’s writings and presentations are liberally dosed with fiction, conjecture and flimsy evidence to support his overblown positions. 

From his exaggerated study paraphrasing, misstatements, manipulation, leaps of logic, and unproven claims, Peskin reveals his constant bias, beliefs, and desire to support his business operations as shown above.  

He consistently ignores the totality of the scientific literature because it goes against his most basic claims and review statements. He omits standard reference ranges and human studies because most undercut his claims. His reviews are not science and he is clearly guilty of severe research misconduct. His work is that of a flimflam man, abusing science for his personal and business goals.  

And again, how did this terrible work of bias and pseudo-science pass a peer review at Scientific Research? I think a new round of science and ethics training is called for because whatever peer review was done was shallow, cursory and allowed this bogus review to be published. 

Here is the list of SCIRP contacts and the Food and Nutrition Sciences Editorial Board members who were unhelpful or unresponsive to my research misconduct complaint here (a few did try to help), including details of the numerous attempts to extort money from me in order for SCIRP and FNS to review my complaint about research misconduct in their own journal:   

SCIRP and FNS Hall of Shame 112514 PDF

Conclusion

Science is supposed to be about careful design and analysis, using precise language and quantitative accuracy, following established protocols and methods. In short, science is quantifiable search for truth, supported by credible data analysis and replication. These qualities are supposed to set science apart from subjectivity, opinion, conjecture, flimflam and fiction (i.e. bias).

I could go on for another 10 pages, including Peskin’s endless unproven claims, obvious lack of credible human studies, exclusion of the 60-plus relevant studies (and 90-plus total links) I included here, poor citations, etc. Having read through several of Peskin’s biased reviews, I again conclude that he has mastered the ability to use the appearance and trappings of science to get his bogus work published, even though it’s not really science: it’s pervasive misinformation to help his business activities. And Scientific Research and Food and Nutrition Sciences have helped him do just that!

Peskin consistently mixes unsupported, overblown claims and sweeping generalities, including his use of limited or tangential citations, all dosed with big amounts of fiction to grab attention. His language is theatrical all through his reviews. He has perfected the art of scientific flimflam and con, using his own brand or smoke-and-mirrors hype and bombast to make falsehoods seem true.

Brian Peskin poses a threat to scientific integrity and credibility. His work is a source of misinformation for the scientific community and the public, as he uses unending pseudo-science to drive people from a healthy supplement like fish oil. In the meantime, we should all boycott Peskin’s work and business endeavors, along with Scientific Research publications for allowing this flimflam junk review to be published. It’s clearly a dishonest and deceitful work.

As for Scientific Research, you have contributed to Peskin’s research misconduct and you are enabling a pseudo-scientist to degrade science on a global scale. I will boycott your research and I will urge others to do the same, as long as any work of Brian Peskin’s remains published on your site.  

Once I hear more from SCIRP and FNS, I will update this page here:

Update: 3/27/15: Today, Scientific Research Publishing (SCIRP.org) finally decided to retract the 2 anti-fish oil studies they published by Brian Peskin. It took about 5 months and numerous e-mails, debunking posts and updates. They concluded that Peskin’s reviews were biased, unreliable and contained self-plagiarism; their summary also says that his reviews did not meet their standards. Of note is that Peskin claimed that he is a Chief Research Scientist, in violation of the Permanent Injunction terms contained in the link below (I still think SCIRP needs better screening of their authors and a more rigorous peer review system, and I made some initial suggestions to them about those issues).

{ 1 comment }

jestine November 28, 2014 at 11:57 AM

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