The vast majority of the published scientific literature on cancer and cancer research is inherently flawed and non-reproducible, reveals a new review published online in the journal Nature. Researchers C. Glenn Begley and Lee Ellis found that a mere 11 percent of 53 papers on cancer published in reputable, peer-reviewed journals was solid, while the other 89 percent could not be reproduced, implying that it may be false or at the very least misleading.
Preclinical studies are the basis upon which the scientific community at large determines how best to develop treatments for disease, including potential new approaches to treating cancer. But such studies, though sure to contain some minor flaws from time to time, appear to be missing the boat in major ways on a regular basis. And the end result of this intrinsic failure is a cancer treatment system that is not only outdated but potentially completely misguided.
“The scientific community assumes that the claims in a preclinical study can be taken at face value – that although there might be some errors in detail, the main message of the paper can be relied on and the data will, for the most part, stand the test of time,” wrote the authors about their findings. “Unfortunately, this is not always the case.”
Based on a review of 53 published papers on cancer, Begley and Ellis discovered that only six of them could be reproduced and confirmed in a clinical setting. And the worst part was that the 53 papers were considered to be “landmark,” which means they are generally recognized as having had a significant impact on cancer research due to presenting some new cancer treatment approach or novel therapy for targeting cancer cells.
“[I]t looks like the scientific literature is contaminated with a growing number of tainted studies, which may reach 89 percent, the results of which are not reproducible by any means,” writes Eleni Roumeliotou for GreenMedInfo.com about the shocking findings. “This means that to an extent, we have based our healthcare and clinical guidelines on fake studies that reported untruthful results in order to accommodate the interests of industrial corporations.”
Many cancer studies influenced by Big Pharma conflicts of interest
The fact of the matter is that a considerable amount of published scientific research is questionable at best due to influence from the pharmaceutical industry. A similar but unrelated study that looked at research funding found that at least 17 percent of published research papers in general were conducted with serious conflicts of interest, which more often than not stemmed from drug industry funding that steered the research in a pre-determined direction.
“Given the frequency we observed for conflicts of interest and the fact that conflicts were associated with study outcomes, I would suggest that merely disclosing conflicts is probably not enough,” says Dr. Reshma Jagsi, M.D., author of a University of Michigan (UM) study that found a considerable percentage of cancer research to be tainted by conflicts of interest. “It’s becoming increasingly clear that we need to look more at how we can disentangle cancer research from industry ties.”