It’s fascinating to me how many factors now point towards the downfall of a once-powerful empire.
It seems like every week we’re learning more about just how crooked scientific research really is. And I guess it should come as no surprise, given the amount of money that’s at stake.
Not only for the researchers—but for the clinical research organizations, the internal review boards, and the hospitals. Not to mention the companies that fund the research, assuming they hit pay dirt.
And if I’ve taught you anything over the years, it’s to follow the money trail… always. Because especially where health research is concerned, the implications matter. So without further ado, let’s look at the details of the latest case in point.
A new review suggests that cardiovascular researchers doctored the conclusions of some two-thirds of the randomized controlled trials appearing in six different reputable medical journals: New England Journal of Medicine, the Lancet, JAMA, the European Heart Journal, Circulation, and the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
Investigators found nearly 100 cardiovascular trials that yielded statistically non-significant results… but which were published anyway.
The explanation? Spin, spin, spin. Cardiovascular researchers employed three tragically effective strategies in particular:
- They emphasized secondary results—like comparisons within groups, or outcomes within subgroups—that were statistically significant, even though main results weren’t.
- They interpreted primary trial results as demonstrating treatment equivalence or ruling out adverse events… when, once again, they weren’t statistically significant.
- They stressed the benefits of the treatment, often without mentioning that—say it with me now—trial results weren’t statistically significant.
Ultimately, investigators detected spin in at least one section of nearly 60 percent of the abstracts, and nearly 70 percent of the main texts of these studies. And the spin was pervasive, across all sections, in nearly 30 percent of the abstracts and 20 percent of the main texts.
As for conclusions, about 50 percent included spin. Mostly low-level, but… please. I can tell you with a pretty fair degree of certainty that a lot of doctors skip right to these conclusions without bothering to read anything else.
A sign of the times
To say this is appalling would be an understatement. Despite all the unbiased “peer reviews” that these prestigious journals stake their reputations on, it seems that hidden agendas are still at work.
And frankly, the “publish or perish” climate in medicine has become more like “The Hunger Games” than ever.
Now, I speak to you as a practical dinosaur. But when I was coming up through the ranks, drug company money—or any outside funding at all, really—was seen as dirty and tainted. The conflict was understood, and you just never used it, simple as that.
Clearly, those days are over. Nowadays, it’s the complete opposite… and you just never know who’s trying to push their propaganda behind the scenes.
Luckily, I studied public health in addition to medicine. So I learned how to look out for potential politics hiding behind medical literature. But for every doctor like me, there are those who just listen to drug reps. And all I can say to that is… YIKES.
But it’s not just doctors facing manipulation anymore. With the advent of the internet, these deceptions affect patients as well as clinicians. And lay people are even more vulnerable to sleights of hand like this.
In this day and age, we need truth and transparency where and when we can get it. And it’s truly disheartening to think that even science—a sacred cow if there ever was one—has been corrupted.
P.S. To learn how to get a major health boost naturally—including ways to slash your heart disease risk—check out the July 2017 issue of my monthly newsletter, Logical Health Alternatives (“The completely natural, pill-free way to slash your risk of heart attack”). Subscribers have access to this and all of my archives. So if you haven’t already, consider signing up today!
“CV Research Spin Abundant in the Era of Alternative Facts.” Medscape Medical News, 05/03/19. (medscape.com/viewarticle/912571)