Navigation Links
Awareness of epidemiology's limitations could reduce impact of false-positive cancer results

False-positive results are an inherent risk in cancer research, particularly in observational epidemiology studies. The frequency and impact of misleading results can be mitigated if researchers use more exacting standards when interpreting and reporting results, according to a commentary in the July 8 online issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Additionally, the impact of false-positive results could be lessened if the researchers and other stakeholders, including journal editors, the media, and consumers, evaluated the results with a more critical eye.

In the commentary, Paolo Boffetta, M.D., of the International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon, France, and other senior researchers from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., and the Mario Negri Institute in Milan, Italy, discuss some of the key pitfalls of epidemiological research. For example, the authors describe what has happened over the last decade and a half after one small study reported an apparently strong association between pesticide residues in women's blood and the risk of breast cancer. Since then, seven more studies have examined the association, and successive meta-analyses that incorporated the accumulating data showed a decreasing relative risk from a more than four-fold increased risk to no increased risk. That pattern of decreasing summary risk indicates that the initial observation was incorrect.

Common problems that can lead to the occurrence and reporting of false positives include chance, systematic errors in the design or analysis of a study that introduce various types of biases, inadequate accounting for confounding variables, multiple subgroup analyses, and a preference amongst authors and editors to report positive, novel, or statistically significant results rather than results that suggest no association. Although researchers and readers may think these factors have a relatively small impact on the outcome of a study, the authors note that a previous analysis demonstrated that unmeasured and residual confounding could generate up to a 2-fold apparent increase in risk, even though the variable being examined did not have any real risk associated with it.

For each of these issues, the authors suggest ways to mitigate the problem. For example, they suggest that researchers should not give undue emphasis to the results of post-hoc and subgroup analyses or emphasize outcomes of borderline statistical significance. "Epidemiologists by training are most often aware of the methodological limitations of observational studies, particularly those done by others, yet when it comes to practice, and especially the interpretation of their own study results, methodological vigilance is often absent," the authors write.

Moreover, both researchers and readers should view novel results critically. "One of the simplest yet potentially most effective remedies involves increasing emphasis on skepticism when assessing study results, particularly when they are new."


Contact: Liz Savage
Journal of the National Cancer Institute

Related medicine news :

1. The Trevor Project Raises Lifesaving Proceeds, Awareness at Trevor New York Benefit
2. Lyfe Jennings Launches Summer Tour and HIV/AIDS Awareness Initiative
3. Combined Insurance: Consider Supplemental Accident Insurance and Disability Insurance During Safety Awareness Month
4. Newly Formed Consortium to Combat Medical Fraud Announces National Agenda to Intensify Fight Against Health Care Fraud Goals: Collaboration Across Industries; Alignment of Resources; Increased Awareness Among Public and Private Stakeholders Including Fede
5. Verizon Wireless Continues Support of National HIV Testing Awareness Campaign
6. CVS Caremark Employees Raise $1 Million and Increase Awareness for Children with Disabilities through Easter Seals Walk With Me Events Nationwide
7. Thousands Gather for the Walk from Obesity - Walk on the Capitol in Washington, DC, to Raise Awareness of Obesity
8. Hope, Volume One, a CD benefiting Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE), to Be released on June 24, 2008
9. Movement Against Cancer Launches An All-Russia Cancer Awareness Campaign to Promote Early Screening and Cancer Detection Programs in Russias Regions
10. CafePress Supports Stand Up To Cancer With Online Store to Help Raise Awareness and Funds for Research
11. Tim Russerts Death Provides Important Opportunity for News Media to Increase Public Awareness of How to Prevent Sudden Cardiac Arrest
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/27/2015)... VVA (PRWEB) , ... November 27, 2015 , ... ... motto of progress through sharing, the 2016 Building Better Radiology Marketing ... The conference will begin on Sunday, March 6, 2016, at Caesars Palace in ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... November 27, 2015 , ... Keeping in mind ... mental health and wellness consultation, has collaborated with a leading web-based marketplace for ... gap experienced by parents and bring advice from parenting experts within their reach. ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... , ... Avid collector, Andrew Hawley from Vintage Rock Posters, announces his search ... one of Joplin's most famous and beautiful concert posters. The concert was held on ... Arbor. The According to Hawley, "It is hard to believe that Joplin's stardom was ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... , ... November 26, 2015 , ... ... real-time eReferral system for diagnostic imaging in the Waterloo region. Using the Ocean ... Nuclear Medicine tests directly from their electronic medical record (EMR) without the need ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... ... 2015 , ... PRMA Plastic Surgery is updating their record books yet again ... free flap breast reconstruction surgery! , “What an accomplishment for the PRMA team, says ... and it’s an honor to have served all of these women.” , PRMA is ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/26/2015)... ) has announced ... High Viscosity Drugs" report to their offering. ... addition of the "Self Administration of High ... --> Research and Markets ( ) ... Administration of High Viscosity Drugs" report to ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... SYDNEY , Nov. 26, 2015  The total global ... nearly 7% over 2015-2016. Latin America ... Asia , (excluding Japan ), is ... continues to face increased healthcare expenditure. In 2013-2014, ... expenditure declined from 43.5% in 2008-2009 to 41.2% in 2013-2014. ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... , Nov. 25, 2015 On Tuesday, ... federal bellwether trial against Wright Medical Technology, Inc. ... their Conserve metal-on-metal hip implant device, awarded $11 ... a two week trial and three days of ... hip device was defectively designed and unreasonably dangerous, ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: