A recent NYT article highlighted an unpublsihed study done in the 1960’s. The Minnesota Coronary Experiment was a randomized study that was conducted in nursing homes state mental hospitals from 1968 to 1973. Nearly 10,000 men and women, ages 20 to 97, participated. Data on serum cholesterol were available on more than 2,300 participants who were on the study diets for more than a year.
Perhaps no subject is more controversial these days than fats. In the 1970’s and 1980’s doctors attacked the total amount of fat in Americans’ diets, that seems to have passed. These days, the fights are over the type of fat that is considered acceptable.
There was a lot of news this week about this study, published in the medical journal BMJ, that looked at how diet affects heart health. The results were unexpected because they challenged the conventional thinking on saturated fats.
And the data were very old, from the late 1960’s and early 1970’s.
This has led many to wonder why they weren’t published previously. This is a major point in the NYT article. The results of the study are not a big deal and as always, debatable. But what is not debatable is that someone or some group DID NOT want this research study published after they got the results. This goes beyond ethics and one has to wonder why a group of people did not want to put this data out to the American public.
This brings out the subject that hundreds of studies are not published because they don’t “fit the results” in the desired manner. This is true for drugs, vitamins, diet and many other types of studies. A good example is the drug Tamiflu. Just watch the TED talk from Ben Goldacre (transcripts here). Tamiflu is a drug which governments around the world have spent billions and billions of dollars on stockpiling (in a panic), in the belief that it will reduce the rate of complications of influenza. When a group called the Cochrane systematic reviewers were trying to collect together all of the data from all of the trials that had ever been conducted on whether Tamiflu actually resulted in complications or not, they found that several of those trials were unpublished. The results were unavailable to them. And when they started obtaining the write ups of those trials through various different means, through Freedom of Information Act requests, through harassing various different organizations, what they found was inconsistent. And when they tried to get a hold of the clinical study reports, the 10,000-page long documents that have the best possible rendition of the information, they were told they weren’t allowed to have them.
We really ought to be demanding the entire picture for our well being and the health of our loved ones.
To your health