Thursday, January 05, 2006

Duplicity in Reporting Study Results

Dr. Michael Eades, MD, made a good point today in his blog about the recent study claiming to show a high-fat diet triggers diabetes, "I have known a lot of medical reporters, and none of them in their daily scans of the medical literature would have picked up this article to report on. In fact, I'm quite sure that their eyes would have quickly glazed over had any even tried to read it. So how did it get picked up? Either the journal or the authors themselves issued a press release proclaiming this great discovery. Few, if any, medical reporters could understand this article or its supposed significance, so they relied on the authors to tell them what it meant. These reporters then parroted the authors claims to the world without really having a clue themselves as to what it was all about."

You may recall I wrote about this study on December 29, 2005 in Fatty Diet Follies.

What's interesting today is that another animal study was just published - this time showing a negative outcome for male mice consuming soy!

As Forbes reported in Soy Might Worsen Heart Condition, University of Colorado scientists found that when male mice who carried a gene mutation associated with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), a disease in which the heart muscle thickens abnormally, were taken off their normal soy diets, their heart function improved significantly compared to HCM male mice who stayed with soy.

The study co-author, Leslie A. Leinwand, chairman of the Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology at the university said, "I was struck by the massive impact that diet had on so many functions of the heart -- the all-encompassing effect of diet was so striking."

So, how are the researchers and media playing this one?

Are they calling for men with heart disease to reduce or eliminate soy from their diets?

Are they concerned that men with heart disease may be placing themselves at risk for worsening their condition if they eat soy products?

Heck no!

Leinwand is not sounding the clarion call for those with heart disease to avoid soy. "I would feel pretty uncomfortable making any kind of recommendation about what physicians should say to patients, as these are mice, not humans," she said.

So, on the one hand we have an animal study, using mice bred to respond to fat in the diet and get diabetes used to sound the alarm that it's a high-fat diet that's responsible for the diabetes epidemic, while on the other hand we have another animal study showing dramatic, negative outcomes but no, no, no, don't even think of considering a caution to men with heart disease - afterall, these are just mice!

Can you say "double standard"?

When the outcome is favorable to our deeply entrench commitment to low-fat diets, it's OK to use an animal model to make claims to keep going with the belief. When the outcome is negative, well...the study did only use mice, didn't it?

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