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Who Paid for that Research?
If news came out that a cigarette manufacturer secretly funded some research on finding early detection methods for lung cancer, would you believe the results or trust the medical institution? That’s a question that The New York Times is raising in its analysis of a Weill Cornell Medical College study that may have accepted and hidden money from the Liggett Group, a major tobacco company that produces the Eve and Liggett Select brands of cigarettes.
The study examined whether early detection of lung cancer using CT scans could reduce the number of deaths from the condition. Researchers are concerned because they typically shun any money from large corporations, since they can potentially have a big impact on the outcome of the research. In the report, the source of the funding was listed as “The Foundation for Lung Cancer” instead of Liggett, and researchers feel they were duped.
“You have to ask yourself the question, ‘Why did the tobacco company want to support her research?’” Jerome Kassirer, M.D., a former editor for The New England Journal of Medicine, told the paper. “They want to show that lung cancer is not so bad as everybody thinks because screening can save people; and that’s outrageous.”
Will people take up smoking if they know that lung cancer isn’t as deadly with this new screening process? That’s not likely, since it’s already pretty deadly and people find it very hard to quit smoking as it is now. But if the research shows that lives can be saved due to this new screening process, does it matter where the funding comes from? Or are other researchers just upset that the Weill Cornell study got around the rules? [The New York Times]