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Awareness of epidemiology's limitations could reduce impact of false-positive cancer results
Date:7/8/2008

ors 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."


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Contact: Liz Savage
jncimedia@oxfordjournals.org
301-841-1287
Journal of the National Cancer Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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