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This week the Lancet officially recognised its role in the issue over MMR jab and the apparent link with various problems. They chose to officially withdraw the publication of the article which apparently showed the link.
Whilst I must applaud the Lancet for doing this, which is right a proper in light of the various ruling since the unfortunate event, it would be good to know that the editor and the peer review process takes a closer look at how it goes about approving any research for publication. Over the years since I have been looking more closely at various studies published in the Lancet and other medical publications it is disappointing to a significant number of studies published which “misrepresent” actual findings. For example there was an study published in the New England Journal of Medicine ( a most respected medical journal) which talked about low carb throughout the paper but only after a very very close read was it apparent that low carb meant about 125- 250 grams of carbs. This is not nor ever has been low carb. It is true that there is no legal definition of low carb but any expert in diet would know that there is a significant difference between reducing carbs to a level that the body goes into ketosis and simply a general reduction in carbs.
This problem of publication of research which has misleading conclusions is constantly happening and digging into past copies of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition a 2006 study was published which concluded that there is no benefit to altering the macro nutrients of diets and that everything is based on calorie intake.
If you were a lazy reader it would be easy to read the conclusion and rely on the standards of the publication and peer review process to provide the comfort you need that the conclusion is proper and thorough. Unfortunately if you did not trust the peer review process and actually read the study you would find that:-
1. They studied “adults adhering to A ketogenic low-carbohydrate (KLC) diet or A nonketogenic low-carbohydrate (NLC) diet.” but concluded Ketogenic low-carbohydrate diets have no metabolic advantage over nonketogenic low-carbohydrate diets, ” that is , they studied one diet but drew conclusions about all.

2. If you want to demonstrate metabolic advantage you have to show that some people lost more weight, calorie for calorie, than others, that is, you have to show individual behaviour. The paper is all group statistics.

So the problem faced by the Lancet is probably an issue for numerous publications.

5 February 2010

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