One Retraction Down, One to Go

One Retraction Down, One to Go

Of the over 2000 posts on Science-Based Medicine, one of the consistently popular entries has been Dr. Oz and Green Coffee Beans – More Weight Loss Pseudoscience from July 2012. As Scott Gavura noted

Yes, Oz did use the terms “magic”, “staggering”, “unprecedented”, “cure” and “miracle pill”.

when referring to green coffee beans as a means of weight loss. Impressive? Only if you do not bother to read the actual papers. As the conclusion of the SBM essay says

Green coffee bean supplements have the characteristics of a bogus weight loss product. The supplement lacks plausibility, the only published clinical trial is tiny, and it appears to have have some serious methodological problems.

Of course it didn't stop entrepreneurs from filling my inbox with the offers to sell me the Oz approved green coffee beans.

It turns out that the phrase 'serious methodological problems' is a remarkable understatement as the paper was retracted this week. Why?

The sponsors of the study cannot assure the validity of the data so we, Joe Vinson and Bryan Burnham [two of the three authors], are retracting the paper.

Cannot assure the validity of the data? What does that mean? As was noted

The FTC charges that the study’s lead investigator repeatedly altered the weights and other key measurements of the subjects, changed the length of the trial, and misstated which subjects were taking the placebo or GCA during the trial.

Ohhhhh. They lied. Making stuff up is, I suppose, a serious methodological problem. Isn't it?

We are all aware of how Dr. Oz was scolded by the Senate and part of the public spanking was due his enthusiasm promoting green coffee beans. At the time Dr. Oz was more concerned with the misuse of his name to sell the beans than the worry that he was giving bad advice based on horrible studies.  Of course, he did not know at the time that the paper was fictional.

Now that the study used to promote the beans was retracted, I wonder if Dr. Oz will retract his adjectives. We know he can't critically read a paper, but perhaps he will now have an Emily Litella moment and say "Oh, that’s different. Never mind."

Given the past:

If you thought Oz, a heart surgeon with excellent professional bona fides, might apologize to the millions of Americans whose efforts to lose weight he has sabotaged by proclaiming the miracle properties of this or that berry or bean, you would be wrong.

I will not hold my breath.

Points of Interest 10/23/14
Catastrophic CAM