Medical Bias and Research Fraud

by Steven Carney on May 31, 2012

Although the media hypes the latest “miracle” drug or anti-vitamin story weekly, the majority of these headlines and stories are unscientific and unsubstantiated!

Focusing on single studies with exaggerated claims conflicts with the most basic process of science and research. That’s because studies and their results need to be replicated and validated multiple times before a consensus forms and the results can be accepted. Unfortunately, the media’s main focus (including many medical journals) is on sensational headlines. They care far less about substance, insight or perspective (things I try to provide in my health posts).

Fraud and bias permeate research!

Fraud and bias permeate drug and medical research, using many forms and variations. For example:

  • The type of study may or may not be appropriate for the headlines claimed. There are dozens of types of studies from lab to animal (often not reliable), to many types of human studies with varying degrees of reliability.
  • Who paid for the study? Research into studies has concluded that financial bias is common, especially for drug research.
  • How was the study designed? Many anti-vitamin studies are destined to fail using too low or too high doses, testing vitamins in isolation (they are not drugs), etc.
  • Was the study prospective (designed in advance) or retrospective (looking back)? Maybe it was it recycled (where a study started out to look at associations like vitamins and heart disease, but with weak results, the data can get recycled to look for cancer without the proper data being gathered).
  • Number crunching and manipulation is common. Researchers rework the numbers until a desired outcome is achieved.
  • The overuse of Relative Risk (RR). This is a common ploy to exaggerate benefits or outcomes, especially for drugs. See my recent post on statin myths with links for examples of this trick!

My initial point about replication is key. Too often, one-time studies are published and reported as dramatic and conclusive, only to be counteracted as wrong when the study is repeated.

Remember what researchers have said about coffee over the years? They have alternated between healthy and unhealthy many times! And how many “miracle” drugs are hyped, only to find out that they injure or kill after a few years on the market?

How to tell what’s right?

When you hear or see a dramatic research headline or claim on your local or national news (or online), don’t believe it until you get more details! Look for the research type and details to see if they support the dramatic headline (often, they will not)! I frequently see that small differences in outcomes of a few percent are presented as stunning breakthroughs or shocking results!

When I add research studies to my site, I focus more on human studies as they are more credible. Plus, I’ve been involved in nutrition, health and disease interactions for 20 years so I know the history for many nutritional, supplement, and lifestyle studies.

As always, feel free to ask a question about this or other posts using the e-mail icon in the upper right.

Helpful links that support what I’m saying:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120529181145.htm

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101115210944.htm

http://www.drbriffa.com/2007/08/27/drug-company-funded-statin-studies-shown-to-be-highly-biased-and-unreliable/

A study of clinical trials showing some significant effects for bias:

http://www.bmj.com/content/344/bmj.e1119

http://www.articlesbase.com/journalism-articles/research-hype-and-media-misinformation-5846960.html (This last article link has additional links on research bias and fraud).

http://medicalconsumers.org/2009/09/10/no-benefit-to-reducing-blood-pressure-below-14090/

I ran across this video about drug publishing bias on 10/18/12 and decided to add it:

http://www.ted.com/talks/ben_goldacre_what_doctors_don_t_know_about_the_drugs_they_prescribe.html

I added this new link on 11/25/12. Although it’s based on some links above, it offers additional insights:

http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/evidence-based-medicine-coins-flip-worth-certainty?goback=%2Egmr_4513679%2Egde_4513679_member_188053731

An article that supports many of the issues I raised in the above post/article on problems with research (bias, money, credibility, etc.). I ran across this on 12/2/12:

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/health/2012/12/02/confusing-health-studies/1741543/

This article also exposes corrupt drug research. It came up on 12/4/12 so I decided to add it:

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=how-drug-company-money-undermining-science

On 5/18/13, I found this article which shows additional political political influence and hype is built into the medical research field:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130516142537.htm

A post I wrote debunking a terrible fish-oil and cancer study from July, 2013:

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

A complete expose’ about medical corruption, including significant portions about research fraud:

http://www.endsicknessnow.com/medical-corruption-dont-be-a-victim

 © 2012 by Steve Carney/End Sickness Now

{ 11 comments }

dating June 11, 2012 at 1:49 PM

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restoring data June 13, 2012 at 6:37 AM

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Rick Malter August 25, 2012 at 8:47 AM

Very important topic about media and research bias. You show how easy it is to manipulate the public and health professionals. We have been in serious trouble for years with no end in signt.

Steve August 25, 2012 at 3:14 PM

Hey Rick! Thanks for the comment!

nicolas May 7, 2013 at 6:08 AM

Although I plan to have some breakfast soon, I found your site and I like the posts. Good info!

Steven Carney May 7, 2013 at 7:19 AM

Be sure to see my updated articles by going to the home page!

Rick Malter May 7, 2013 at 11:18 AM

Hi Steven,

Here’s a link to my blog on the great con game that is presented as “health” care in America.
http://www.malterinstitute.org/healthcongame.pdf

Here’s another link to research fraud.
http://www.malterinstitute.org/manipulatingresearchdata.pdf

Steven Carney May 7, 2013 at 4:40 PM

Hey Rick! How have you been?
I’ve written quite a few articles on medical myths, aging myths and broken healthcare. I have 82 articles now! I’ll try to check out your work as well!

Thanks!

callie May 22, 2013 at 2:30 AM

Greetings! This is my 1st comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and tell you
I truly enjoy reading your blog posts. Can you recommend any other blogs/websites/forums that go over the same subjects? Appreciate it!

Steven Carney May 22, 2013 at 7:40 AM

Thanks!

I follow several functional medicine doctors (Dr. Davis, of Wheat Belly and others), and I also have 20 years of study into nutrition and health. I’ve also had to overcome some childhood diseases and injuries so I think my perspective is unique.

frances cabyard October 7, 2013 at 3:06 PM

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