Research and Media Corruption

by Steven Carney on December 13, 2014

This is post #115 on the site, about an unscientific fish-oil study by Brian Peskin, and some unprofessional sites called Retraction Watch and nutraingredients, along with junk science publishers Hindawi and Scientific Research Publishing (SCIRP), plus some ridiculous reporting by Reuters. All of these entities share similar forms of bias and corruption. NOTE: if you came here from another domain, welcome!

Feel free to browse the vast amount of information and resources here. For past articles on a range of breakthrough nutrition, prevention, aging and lifestyle topics, simply scroll down below this one. Also check the tabs above for more research, tips and other resources.

For many years, we’ve been subjected to the media’s constant hype and exaggeration of anti-supplement studies. I’ve written about these junk studies before, debunking many of them. The the anti-supplement claims often range from no benefits to actual harms. And these false claims are often debunked in a few weeks, but the debunkers (often credible health and medical experts) are ignored by the mass media sources who originally hyped the studies.

The corrupt researchers, journals and media behind these bogus studies and stories get their 5 minutes of fame from their overblown headlines, and move on to the next one, leaving a trail of misinformation and deception in their wake.

For a decade or more, not a single study that attacks vitamins or supplements has been credible. And I now have an even more inside experience about online media bias, manipulation and corruption as I watched these media hacks do their normal work. The news is not good. Start with a retracted anti-fish oil study by Brian Peskin, add the ridiculous media theatrics and hypocrisy that follows, and you have a preview of this post.

Common ways bias distorts research

Here is a list of 10 common ways that research bias drives negative findings for supplement studies and reporting:

  • Poor methods, lack of actual screening tests
  • Too-high or too-low doses
  • Synthetic forms of vitamins, minerals or supplements (often less bioavailable and can upset nutrient balances)
  • Using nutrients in isolation (vitamins, minerals and antioxidants work together with food and lifestyle)
  • Using older subjects who already have existing, chronic diseases
  • Exaggerating perceived failures when a few years of a study don’t cure decades of chronic health problems (drugs don’t cure them either, a point researchers and media ignore)
  • Failing to adequately track critical confounders like diet, activity/inactivity, stress, smoking/alcohol use, chemical exposure, prescription drug use, etc. (drugs work by disrupting normal psychological process, such as statins and Co-Q10 production)
  • Recycling/rehashing the data from a previous study and calling it a new study (creates poor, unreliable science)
  • Exaggerating associative studies to sound like they prove causation when they don’t (most anti-supplement studies do this)
  • And many other forms of manipulation, exaggeration and poor methodology, such as Relative Risk, used to exaggerate small outcome differences into much bigger ones

These anti-vitamin media campaigns are sophisticated, planned months in advance, with embargoed press releases (giving major outlets a week to work up their shallow, press-release-driven story), stocked with exaggerated headlines and claims. These are sent to friendly mass-media outlets to maximize dramatic coverage and theatrics.

These medical journals know the media is always hungry for negative stories, and anti-supplement headlines are a special treat: they get lots of attention, online comments and buzz. This is an industry now, churning out stories every few weeks or months. People build careers on this flood of misinformation. That’s how twisted this industry has become.

As you probably know, these junk studies are often breathlessly covered by media people who have little background in research types/methods, nutrition, physiology or disease development. They simply work off the press release provided by the medical journal to hype the findings, often stocked with wild claims and headlines the study never includes! These media people feel there is no need to know anything about the background subject matter. Hence, mass media is now correctly equated with misinformation.

In fact, you can click on several categories for this site (see list on the right sidebar), especially the “Myths” and “Research” categories to see many of the debunks I have done.

There is little doubt that for 10 or more years, the drug industry (and researchers friendly to their cause and their cash) have opened their hands for a check to run biased, pseudo-scientific work in order to attack “unproven” vitamins as the perceived competition to drugs.

Here are a few sample links to a few anti-supplement debunking posts. They expose the sweeping media and journal corruption so common today):

http://www.endsicknessnow.com/fish-oil-and-cancer-research-fraud

http://www.endsicknessnow.com/anti-vitamin-propaganda

http://www.endsicknessnow.com/3-harmful-nutrition-myths  (especially #2 myth)

Links about the growing number of research retractions and misconduct:

http://www.naturalnews.com/044806_study_retractions_scientific_papers_academic_dishonesty.html

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140815102229.htm

http://cardiobrief.org/tag/scientific-misconduct/

http://curt-rice.com/2013/02/06/why-you-cant-trust-research-3-problems-with-the-quality-of-science/

Peskin’s flimflam research

Starting on September 14, 2014, I contacted a publishing company named Hindawi, regarding a review they published by Brian Peskin. His reviews attack fish oil, falsely claiming it’s the source of multiple health problems and diseases like cancer (Hindawi and SCIRP are cash-and-carry publishers: just write a check and you can get any junk study published). All this junk science is flooding the research field, spreading myths and falsehoods everywhere, especially online.

Peskin is an individual with a questionable past, paying $100,000 to the state of Texas for multiple misrepresentations and various false medical claims. And apparently, Peskin has no credible or formal education in nutrition, health or supplements, and a writing style the mass media loves: overblown and exaggerated, with antics and theatrics galore. In Peskin’s misguided mind: fish oil causes heart disease, cancer, inflammation, aging, blindness, you name it. Yeah, he’s that extreme and unscientific.

The initial review I debunked was retracted on October 30, 1014. I wrote to Hindawi numerous times (about 15 exchanges) to send them information. They asked me in mid-September to send the information and links I had about Peskin’s business activities, background, etc. They also told me that they had been contacted about Peskin’s review and were looking into it (see e-mails below).

I sent Hindawi some early information about Peskin’s unscientific writing style and business activities/conflicts of interest (he has supplements, books and speaking engagements to peddle), including some issues about his troubled background. I also sent additional links and debunking material on several occasions. For some broader perspective, here is a link to that full debunking post:

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

I realize the post is detailed but I decided to add the link, as it has more details about Peskin’s research misconduct and the exchanges I had with Hindawi.

Although I knew it was junk science in a matter of minutes (anyone with a background in nutrition, health and research publishing should see the falsehoods), it took about 30-40 hours to dissect his entire review, including research, checking most of his citations (a horrible experience as most either don’t support his wild claims or they directly conflict with them), plus all the writing, editing and messages to Hindawi. I also kept a thread going on Linkedin (see link below). Peskin’s work is so unscientific, I was shocked anyone could believe it or approve it for publication. But Hindawi did just that.

I did my debunking because it was the right thing to do, no one paid me a penny for the many hours of work I put into it. I didn’t expect any fanfare if the review was retracted. I didn’t contact any media sources, even after I knew about the retraction on October 30, 2014. I wanted to help clean up the junk science that is spreading everywhere and Peskin’s work is clearly fraudulent.

When I checked the Hindawi site on the 30th, it had “RETRACTED” in large letters set diagonally across the review. And I found out that the reason Hindawi used for the retraction was a face-saving one, blaming Peskin’s undisclosed business interests.

In truth, Hindawi also knew that Peskins’s science was poor because I sent pages and pages of debunking showing his work was riddled with bias and scientific errors. That truth would expose Hindawi’s poor peer review system. Blaming Peskin for his undisclosed conflict of interest was a way that Hindawi could save face, which I’m confident was part of the discussion and investigation.

If it was only Peskin’s conflicting business interests, Hindawi could have retracted the work in a few days or simply had him update his review with a disclaimer about his business activities (which is what some suggested). If Peskin’s work was a great work of science, do you really think they would have retracted it for a conflict-of-interest issue? Many studies have authors with conflicts and they are published all the time! It really wouldn’t take 6 or more weeks to decide the obvious! So yes, I’m confident the retraction process was more PR influenced then Hindawi is admitting.

Retraction Watch does their high-five

What I didn’t realize is that sites like Retraction Watch (RW) would publicize the retraction and throw a little high-five party in the process. And even more shocking was how RW manipulated their version of the story before my eyes!

First, a bit of history. Hindawi told me early on (in mid-September) that they had received complaints about Peskin’s work and they were looking into it, so it was obvious that other people contacted them about Peskin’s poor review (and rightfully so). I actually think it’s fine that this was a team effort.

But in the attention-seeking minds of the people at RW, there was only one person who was responsible for the Peskin retraction, a guy named Ian Garber, who apparently sent a single message to Hindawi regarding Peskin’s review style and some business activities. Garber apparently suggested a conflict-of-interest statement to be added to Peskin’s bogus review but didn’t ask for a retraction. And Garber provided no dates in his summary, it’s just vague times of months or a few weeks. RW found that perfectly okay.

I told Hindawi that the study needed to be retracted in my first message on September 14, and followed up with many more. If Garber was so influential, Hindawi could have let Peskin update his review with a conflict-of-interest declaration, and his junk science review would still be up, its false claims intact, continuing to spread his misinformation about fish oil.

The RW wizard storyline: smoke and mirrors

Of course Garber wasn’t the sole person involved, as I had worked with Hindawi for many weeks myself. I can easily prove all the time lines in initial debunking link, including e-mails and links below in the nutraingredients section. So I started commenting on the RW site after their retraction information went up around November 11-12, 2014.

I included a comment with that link to my debunking post above. It was on the page set up with Ian Garber’s summary. In my comment, I praised him for the problems he observed in Peskin’s review because I saw many of the same problems, and I included them in my debunking post. My comment and link were quickly deleted from the RW page (again, see Peskin’s Fish Tale a Whopper? link included above for many more details if you didn’t see it before).

Apparently, the real story interfered with their already decided narrative. They also deleted several comments I made about debunking the next bogus Peskin work, published by SCIRP.org (which I had already begun), as I’m trying to get another of Peskin’s bogus reviews retracted. I made those comments on the main RW retraction page for the Peskin retraction (there is a bit more detail to this, but believe me when I say it doesn’t show good judgement for those at RW).

And get this: No one at RW (including Ivan Oransky who claims to be a journalist) ever asked me a single question about the contacts I had at Hindawi, who they were, when I had them or what was said. (I still have the names, dates and every e-mail). No curiosity whatsoever. No interest in getting the whole picture. No interest in the truth. And no savvy or ability to see beyond the Hindawi PR process or the inherent weakness of Garber’s story (not the sole person, not asking for a retraction, sending just a single message, and including no dates in his summary). This is what passes for crack reporting at RW?

Is he. . .the one?

Like most media (and bogus research studies), it’s all about “selling” a story, the narrative was already written, never mind what actually happened. Bias, manipulation and ego gratification are core values to many in research and in the media. RW is clearly comfortable with distributing misinformation. And again, that’s a common problem with research misconduct because those researchers are disseminating misinformation. It’s like Peskin taught them the ropes!

I also predict that people at RW couldn’t even debunk Peskin’s junk reviews because they don’t know enough and can’t be bothered to drill down into the tangled web of fraud and pseudo-science that defines Peskin’s work (his language style, his misrepresentations of studies, his poor and tangential citations, lack of medical knowledge and science, etc.). It’s extremely difficult and tedious. Only those who have done it understand what I’m saying.

Given the issues, the picture of Ian Garber gazing wistfully into his future is over the top (I predict RW asked for a picture to help sell the story, and coached him on the content he provided). And it appears that a writer named Cat Ferguson actually posted the Garber myth.

This RW myth is as credible as a “staged” reality show (or did you just think that everyone was in position looking surprised when the lead character enters the room, with camera, sound and lighting crews everywhere, plus producers, directors and other staff)? Yeah, that’s what really goes on out of your view. I predict RW helped to create all this content. It didn’t just happen the way they say it did.

Hindawi requested more info in mid-September

Hindawi asked me early on to send them more info and links. For example, If Ian was the great retraction wizard, “the one” who singlehandedly caused the retraction with 1 single message sent a few weeks before the retraction (when he didn’t even ask for one), Hindawi wouldn’t have requested more info from me. Here is what I offered to send an editor at Hindawi named Huda Qabeel, and his response about sending more links and info on Peskin’s research and background on September 15, 2014 (my message is first):

I’ve accumulated quite a few links about the studies and his background.

He has been in legal trouble for misrepresenting his credentials, he has been part of several product sales companies, including one that provides an omega oil supplement, his own citations don’t prove what he claims, etc.

I could send you some links if that helps.

Thanks,

Steve

Huda Qabeel’s reply, later on September 15:

Dear Dr. Carney,

Thank you for your reply. I would be grateful if you could provide us with these links.

I do appreciate your cooperation.

Best regards,

Huda

I sent Huda several more messages with a total of 40-50 links, along with additional commentary on September 16 and 17, 2014. He thanked me for sending those as well. I sent an additional follow up to him and asked how the investigation was going on September 22 but heard nothing more, so I published my own detailed debunking on October 11.

Then, on October 21, 2014, Rasha Magdy, a Senior Publishing Editor for the Hindawi sent a message to me, saying:

I would like to thank you for contacting us about this, and would like to apologize for not replying to your last email. We are aware of the concerns regarding this manuscript, and for the past two months we have been conducting an internal investigation to determine whether there was any scientific misconduct either in the writing or the review process of this manuscript. In addition to our editorial staff, this investigation includes three members of the journal’s Editorial Board, and I would expect that within the next two weeks we will have finalized our investigation.

As soon as we have finalized this investigation we will be sending a report of our findings to you. If you have any further questions regarding this manuscript, please let me know.

Best regards,

Rasha Magdy

I replied to Rasha, thanking her for the update. I also told her that when I heard nothing, I published a detailed article about it and I sent her the link to my October 11 post, much of which I had already sent in e-mails (the post was built on the messages I sent to Hindawi). And of course, Peskin committed research misconduct. His review is full of major errors, exaggeration, misstatements, etc. And I’d also like to point out that Ian never mentioned a message like that in his summary. I predict he didn’t receive it!

Here is Rasha’s final message about the investigation outcome, which I received in early November, 2014:

I am writing to you in regard to the investigation that we have conducted into the publication of the manuscript “Why Fish Oil Fails: A Comprehensive 21st Century Lipids-Based Physiologic Analysis.” We have now had a chance to look into a number of concerning points regarding this manuscript, and as a result of our findings we have retracted this article on the grounds that its author had a competing interest that he did not declare. Please check the retraction statement of the article on http://www.hindawi.com/journals/jl/2014/495761/.

If you have any questions regarding this case please let me know, and once again I would like to thank you for your input into our investigation.

Best regards,

Rasha Magdy

In reality, it’s not clear whether Ian contacted Hindawi before me, or when others might have contacted them first, nor is it particularly relevant now (Rasha just told me there were 3 other people who contacted them about Peskin’s bad review, meaning 4 total, clearly debunking the RW myth of “the one”).

It’s clear that Hindawi looked into Peskin’s review and business activities for a month or more (in fact, if you were involved, drop me a line and I’ll update this post, unlike those at RW). And when Garber said he heard nothing a few weeks before the retraction, it sounds like I contacted Hindawi before he did, which was a good 6-7 weeks before the official retraction on November 5, 2014.

Although I don’t see this as a contest (and I’m now certain there are others who took the time to contact Hindawi), it has unfortunately turned into a series of misrepresented stories, giving Garber sole credit for a retraction he didn’t even ask for, when others were clearly involved. Does the RW story make rational sense to anyone?

RW is grandstanding, pure and simple. And to me, it’s both unprofessional and disrespectful to me and the others who contacted Hindawi about Peskin’s review. Hindawi would not have asked me for more info in mid-September if they had all that they needed, nor would they have kept me informed of their investigation and decisions if I contributed nothing useful or wasn’t involved.

So Hindawi knew from my work that Peskin had business conflicts, legal problems for misrepresentation, and most importantly, that his science was also poor. They knew he misrepresented many studies and citations, including citing that same review in his citations (beyond absurd). I even challenged Hindawi to find the support for various citations that were actually dead ends.

Peskin also omitted many study findings and limitations that undercut his biased positions. His review is full of other glaring distortions and inaccuracies (for example 2 of the 4 main studies he claimed showed fish oil failures used no fish oil whatsoever). In short, Peskin committed research misconduct throughout his work. The peer reviewers at Hindawi didn’t notice, showing how incompetent their peer review system is. Hindawi has never admitted the obvious, that indeed, their peer review system is largely incompetent, if not phony.

Not only did I want a retraction, I wanted to let Hindawi know about the poor science so they would be less inclined to publish Peskin’s work in the future. I also didn’t want them to simply allow Peskin to add a conflict-of-interest statement as Garber had suggested.

For me, this has always been about more than simple business conflicts. It’s about stopping scientific corruption on a deeper and more pervasive level, something that the myopic people at RW don’t seem to grasp. They seem to lack perspective; they don’t seem to have thought this through. Their Garber myth has lots of holes and makes little sense. Welcome to the crack investigative team at RW!

It’s also important to note that RW doesn’t help to bring the bad research down, which is the really hard part (I told a friend it’s like trying to un-ring a bell), they just celebrate the results like some college kids having a party. And in the end, I blame RW more than Garber. He may be misinformed about what happened, with the help of RW and their slanted, deceptive story!

Would you trust those people? Would you want them as co-workers? Or have you already worked with people like that before? You know what the outcome will be. They will take credit for the long hours you worked; your significant contribution dismissed as unimportant.

Nutraingredients-usa joins the party

As if all that unprofessional nonsense wasn’t head-spinning enough, nutraingredients-usa picked up the RW mythology and wrote an article about it, again presenting Ian as the great wizard and omega-3 slayer, never realizing that behind the curtain is the real story. He is the one, the all powerful Oz, the medical student with the far off gaze! In fact, her subhead for the Garber section was this overly-dramatic title:

Confessions of an omega-3 gainslayer

Really? Are we watching a soap opera? So the myth has expanded over the weeks as the misinformation spreads. These are adults? Or just kids who don’t see beyond the next 5 minutes of ego gratification? I bet you know the answer!

I wrote to the nutraingredients author, Annie-Rose Harrison-Dunn (yep, she has 2 hyphenated names), and she played it rather coy, expressing no real concern or interest, like she didn’t get my obvious message.

So I explained the issues and problems to her again, including how RW deleted the info I provided about working with Hindawi. Like RW, she didn’t have a single question about what transpired between me and Hindawi, including my additional work to get Pubmed, the national clearing house for medical research, to update their Peskin review for the retraction.

Just so you know, here’s what I initially said to her and her coy response:

I wish you were less literal about how the Peskin review was retracted. I also worked for months to complain to Hindawi, including multi-page rebuttals and numerous e-mails. It’s not just the guy on Retraction watch! Have a look at these posts and their dates:

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

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/article/20141013153507-116458049-peskin-s-fish-oil-follies?published=t

She responded with this:

What exactly do you mean by less literal Steven?

Was I so confusing? I don’t think so. I think she was pretending to be confused, like a 6-year old. The problem was obvious. It’s not just Garber who worked to get the retraction (it’s now clear in December, 2014 that there were 4 of us, a validation of my views all along). And like RW, Annie-Rose had no curiosity or interest in getting any additional facts or the broader story. She had no questions about what happened, and seemed unconcerned about any of it. Grossly unprofessional? Amateurish?

Feeling betrayed for a second time, I decided to contact an editor for nutraingredients-usa named Hank Schultz, and I sent him some copies of her comments. I heard nothing so I followed up with a few more comments and links to my posts and a Linkedin thread I started in September, which showed al lengthy time line for the work and Hindawi contacts I had. No response.

More proof I was involved

I included these 3 links so Hank could see much of the history of my involvement with the Hindawi retraction:

http://www.endsicknessnow.com/peskins-fish-tale-a-whopper  (included above)

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/article/20141013153507-116458049-peskin-s-fish-oil-follies?published=t

This link has a timeline of postings I made (I started it on September 24, 2014) and the updates I provided some LN followers on the process. I knew the article was retracted on October 30th, and I posted in that Linkedin thread:

https://www.linkedin.com/groupAnswers?viewQuestionAndAnswers=&discussionID=5920583066018918403&gid=2238329&goback=%2Enmp_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1#commentID_null

So Hank never responded to any of my messages (it’s early December as I’m writing this so it’s been weeks since I wrote him and no, the messages didn’t bounce back). Apparently he couldn’t be bothered to investigate important omissions in an article posted on his site. Also, no further word from Annie-Rose or anyone else at nutraingredients-usa.

Nutraingredients-usa has never updated anything in their article, in spite of the messages I sent and the info I provided. The article remains as misleading as it was when she wrote it weeks ago. So the deception continues and what I’ve learned is this: These media outlets are manipulative and very comfortable with misrepresenting facts and important details in a story. It’s fine to publish misinformation.

Would you hire these people? Would you trust them to be professional or to represent your business or brand?

Does this give anyone pause? It’s not just about mass media sources, known to distort, slant and manipulate stories on a daily basis (yes, you are being deceived every day, as my links above and below indicate). Now, even people involved in research and nutritional reporting seem without basic curiosity or integrity, willing to leave a misleading story up, refusing to respond to an issue they created.

So I won’t visit or link to nutraingredients-usa any more (nor will I ever recommend it), because I’ve learned how unprofessional they are. I urge that everyone who reads this post to boycott that site, as well as Retraction Watch. Neither site has demonstrated a level of integrity that merits our trust. Don’t waste your time, unless you like being mislead and deceived.

More hacks at Reuters

BTW, I have some additional comments about Ivan Oransky, one of the founders and managers of RW.

See this link and quotes about RW (I understand and agree with the comments):

http://scienceretractions.wordpress.com/  (you will need to scroll down, it’s a series of posts)

Ariel Fernandez: It is hard for me to understand the motivation for such posts by Ivan Oransky and Adam Marcus and for some of the comments in their blog. The story is thin on reality. It reads like an attack. These people seem angry (they surely sound angry) and probably think they will get some credit for doing what they do. . .

. . .The agenda of Retraction Watch is pretty much dictated by the hysteria of its commenters, veritable nobodies seeking attention and hoping to be rewarded for “tracking down the phonies”, to paraphrase the assassin of John Lennon.

Oransky also worked for Reuters. That’s interesting because I’ve been quite unimpressed with their over-hyped headlines and biased stories before. In fact, it’s a Reuters’ article that provided another distorted story about fish oil that Peskin quotes in his bogus SCIRP review (the one I’m trying to get retracted now)!

So ponder that reality: A Reuters’ editor in 2013 talks up a bogus fish oil study retraction, even as Reuters published another hack article in 2012, giving Peskin material to quote in another junk fish oil review he got published. It’s dumb squared!

That article was about a poorly-done cancer rehash study from 2012, based on churning some data from a previous study on heart disease (remember my list of common tactics used to create negative supplement findings)? The actual study was done in France and it had nothing to do with cancer. The study subjects were mostly older and all had been diagnosed with serious heart disease, including recent heart attacks and strokes.

A junk heart disease study becomes a more bogus cancer study

Here are a few details about the original HD study: The largely elderly, sick subjects were given a few, low dose B-vitamins (just 3 of 8 in the B-complex, when all 8 should be taken together in supplement form so they balance out), and some low dosages of fish oil. Because the supplements didn’t work miracles in a few years, the study authors proclaimed that people with heart disease still died or had other problems! Shock! Good thing I was sitting down when I read that!

Then they rehashed/recycled the numbers and called it a cancer study (which it wasn’t) and concluded that there was little effect from a few vitamins or fish oil on cancer in old, sick people! I’m shocked again! Welcome to the wonderful world of junk research, pseudo-science and media hype! Go Reuters!

So Reuters ran with the cancer rehash story version in 2012 and Brian Peskin, the anti-fish oil/junk science writer happily cited and quoted several lines from the story, which grossly overstated the study’s meaning and conclusions.

I debunk the nonsense study in the link below. You will soon see that the study was meaningless, yet Reuters ran the story with their predictably overblown, misleading headline for a data rehash that proved. . .NOTHING! I shred the whole study in the post linked just above, exposing the pseudo-science in detail and why it has no credibility (it’s near the end):

http://www.endsicknessnow.com/more-peskin-fish-tales

This isn’t the first time I’ve seen Reuter’s go gaga for junk research, but this study was so biased and exaggerated, it’s a natural match for Peskin. He loves to quote biased, junk fish oil studies because they fit his extreme bias and Reuters article was perfect for his kind of bogus review! Peskin and Reuters are cut from the same cloth: attention seeking, with embarrassing little foundation or understanding in research, nutrition, prevention or disease development. In short, they are all science amateurs and hacks!

Just for fun, here is a link to the embarrassing Reuter’s story and the headline they used:

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/02/14/us-vitamin-b-fish-oil-idUSTRE81D1TT20120214

Vitamin B and fish oil fail to prevent cancer

Sounds dramatic doesn’t it? You will soon learn that this headline is a lie! First, take a moment and tell me how many drugs prevent cancer? How about none? That’s right, there are NO drugs that prevent cancers. Yet, the biased media runs these hyped-up stories because supplements don’t appear to work miracles in a study rehash with zero (0) credibility? Do you see how this works now? Remember what I said in the early paragraphs of this post? Remember the list?

In truth, the study was never designed to study cancer or cancer prevention. As outlined above, it was a rehash of a previous study on heart disease (so it was a retrospective, looking-back study), that doesn’t show any cause-and-effect or prove that ridiculous and deceptive headline.

The study was not credibly designed or managed (many important confounders that could influence the outcome were not tracked), with most people being older (up to age 80), with high BP, a BMI over 25, which is high, with high fasting glucose at 99 mg/dL. All had diagnosed CVD/heart disease, and most (about 70% of each group) were current or former smokers (significantly increasing cancer risk). Of note is that the cancer group had over 73% current and former smokers (a higher percentage than the non-cancer group).

Those tests indicate elevated cancer risk in the study subjects: age, existing heart disease/inflammation, excess weight, high fasting glucose and a very large percentage were smokers. And it’s known that cancers are often decades in the making, not a few years of a study or its rehash (I see this glaring mistake often, from people who should know better). So we blame cancer development on a low dose of fish oil taken for a few years?

This again shows the breathtaking ignorance, bias and lack of scientific understanding these researchers have, including the Reuter’s hacks who worked on the story because only 29 of 514 women got cancer (and some of those were from the placebo group). Remember my list from above? How many elements from that list do you see at play in this study? How about all of 10 of them?

Here is part of the debunking I did in that post called: More Peskin Fish Tales linked above:

These subjects were then 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 Peskin focuses on was a secondary analysis, based on a data rehash of the prior trial of older people sick 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:

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.

Notice that the men had no problems with fish oil and they were almost 80% of the sample, while the women’s results were based on a few cases and were preliminary. Yet the overblown Reuters article stated this:

. . .among women who took the omega-3 pills, the risk of cancer was three-fold.

There were 21 cases of cancer in the fish-oil group, compared to eight cases in the placebo group.

Andreeva’s team also found that women were more than five times as likely to die of cancer if they had taken the omega-3 pills than if they had taken the fake supplements.

Those are such dramatic claims from Reuters, aren’t they? Of course, they are inaccurate, even deceptive portrayals of a study rehash, which, like the studies I mentioned above, show pervasive ignorance and anti-supplement bias (something the hacks at Reuter’s apparently didn’t notice)?

But for some real perspective, here’s a quote from Andreeva, the lead author of the study (this was included at the bottom of the Reuter’s junk article so I wonder how many people saw these important limitations and caveats and why the article was still published):

. . .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.

So Reuters, like other deceptive, mass-media outlets, shows their anti-supplement bias, their research ignorance and their willingness to put hype and theater ahead of truth and accuracy. The study rehash only had an unproven association; it did NOT prove any causation that fish oil was the source of increased cancer or death. Even the authors said it. 

In other words, if people at Reuters actually knew what they were talking about, they would never have run the grossly misleading, deceptive headline and story! The real story (that Reuters ignored) is about how biased and irrational the study was (both versions). But it takes education and work to debunk a bad research study, so the hacks at Reuter’s take the low road, preferring the cheap theatrics and sensationalism of another anti-vitamin story. It’s a crank-it-out for pay model.

Like most mass media, Reuter’s (and RW) is surely desperate for clicks, likes, follows, comments and other social media interaction. And like most media, these authors and writers will say just about anything to get you to click and react! If the truth suffers, so what? Media exaggeration and misinformation have become the norm, as shown in this post. It’s all about online clicks and buzz! It’s exciting too! Especially when you are as desperate for attention as many media types are (think 6 or 8 year-old kids on a sugar high at a birthday party)! Yep, and most writers for mass media have about that maturity! Look at what I went through in this situation. Ridiculous!

BTW, Reuter’s has used these types of overblown headlines and stories before. Here is their coverage of a previous anti-supplement study from November, 2013 that was also pure junk and not worth reporting:

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/11/11/us-supplements-cancer-idUSBRE9AA10920131111

And here is my debunking, showing the bias and pseudo-science in those studies (this was also included in my first set of debunking links above):

http://www.endsicknessnow.com/anti-vitamin-propaganda  (especially the first study I debunk where I mentioned the overblown Reuters version a year ago, keep scrolling to see all the debunking info).

If you compare the work I’ve done in my debunkings and what people like Reuters throw together in one of their superficial articles, you see a startling contrast: They really don’t know what they are talking about and they clearly have no background or depth of knowledge to write the health or nutrition stories they write (I have several more links to junk supplement stories by Reuters). So yes, hacks!

Here are other Reuter’s stories with overblown headlines and misinformation as several people point out:

http://newsbusters.org/blogs/warner-todd-huston/2008/09/01/reuters-misleading-headline-winner-day

http://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/2014/09/07/reuters-misleading-report-on-rising-sea-levels/

http://wizbangblog.com/content/2009/01/23/falsemisleading-reuters-headline-on-stem-cell-research.php

http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2005/05/010410.php

http://calevbenyefuneh.blogspot.com/2014/01/reuters-erroneous-headline-and-false.html

BTW, for those who want to dig deeper into the SCIRP.org junk science publishing company, this link is to some information about the deep corruption at SCIRP.org and its equally corrupt Food and Nutrition Sciences journal that approved Pesking’s junk study on fish oil causing prostate cancer. This file includes many of those who serve on their incompetent editorial board:

SCIRP and FNS Hall of Shame 112514 PDF

In closing

Each of the entities in this story of research and media corruption demonstrates their willingness to manipulate, distort and misrepresent the truth, showing their comfort with being unprofessional and showing how little integrity or trustworthiness they have.

So always remember these cautionary tales. The bottom line is that no journal or media outlet, from Hindawi and SCIRP, to mass media sources, including sites like Retraction Watch, nutraingredients-usa or Reuters are trustworthy sources of information. Never rely on these online journals or media sources for health or medical news, unless you get a kick out of being misled and deceived.

If you happen to see something you want to know more about, find additional, credible sources to verify the headlines and hype. Consider contacting a company if the story is industry-related.

For health-related research, try getting the original study or abstract (you can search Pubmed or Google scholar if you get the title or other study info). If you do, you will often find that what the media reported is an exaggerated, slanted and distorted version of the actual findings. Remember, the truth is in the details. The modern media is not a fact-based industry offering balance and perspective, it is a theater-based, attention-seeking one, willing to lie for a few clicks. Sad but true.

NOTE: If I get any useful updates, I’ll add them here:

© 2014 by Steven Carney/End Sickness Now

 

{ 1 comment }

Sam December 14, 2014 at 9:24 AM

Major thanks for this blog article. Really looking forward to reading more!

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