Cancer Study Part Funded by Tobacco Company

April 07, 2008 11:40 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
A study suggesting early CT scans can prevent lung cancer deaths comes under fire with the discovery that tobacco and medical imaging companies helped fund it.

30-Second Summary

In 2006, the New England Journal of Medicine published the study, which concluded that CT scans could help save lives by detecting lung cancer earlier than other forms of imaging.

But a recent report discovered that among 30 sponsors of the research were makers of CT scanners and cigarettes, such as the Foundation for Lung Cancer, funded by $3.6 million from the cigarette maker Liggett Group, Inc.

The disclosures “shocked the research community and raised fresh concern about industry influence in important science,” the Associated Press reported.

Lung cancer claims about 160,000 lives annually in the United States. It is highly lethal and usually spreads before causing symptoms, making early detection a key research focus.

JAMA Editor Catherine DeAngelis said if she had known of the tobacco-industry funding, “I would have turned down the paper.”

A New England Journal of Medicine editorial said funding disclosures are “essential” for evaluating potential research biases, and questioned “the advisability of research entities accepting funding from tobacco companies.”

The American Cancer Society (ACS), another study co-funder, said it wouldn’t have knowingly joined tobacco companies but “there is no sign that the study's findings are tainted,” according to ACS’s chief medical officer, Otis Brawley.

The study’s authors say they didn’t view the companies as having a “significant financial interest,” the federal standard for requiring disclosure.

Jeff Poor of Business & Media Institute agrees, saying the controversy is just another instance of the media “bashing big tobacco.”

Headline Links: ‘Full Disclosure and the Funding of Biomedical Research’

Reaction: Ethical breach or ‘guilt by association’

Reference: The study’s findings and lung cancer diagnosis and treatment


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