The problem with biased studies

We may never know whether a drink a day keeps the doctor away. That is unfortunate. Especially because the number of people who enjoy moderate consumption of alcohol is substantial, learning whether that has health benefits is desirable.

But the reason we may not get that information is disturbing and demands more public disclosure.

The National Institutes of Health had planned a $100 million, multi-year study on whether one alcoholic beverage each day could prevent heart attacks. It has been canceled.

Part of the study was to have been funded by the alcohol beverage industry. No problem with that, as long as steps are taken to ensure the money does not influence the outcome of research.

But in killing the study, NIH Deputy Director Lawrence Tabak said interactions between industry officials and NIH employees “appear to intentionally bias” the study.

“Intentional” is a very specific word, meaning something was intended. If NIH employees meant to bias the study, Americans should know about that — and those workers should lose their jobs.

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