Sunday, June 19, 2005

Calcium and PMS, or Sponsored by Who?

You may have seen this story recently about calcium supplements possibly easing the symptoms of PMS. In trying to find the CNN article again, I found an earlier (1998) piece on CNN on the same topic. What you may not have noticed in either piece is the line, "The research, founded in part by the makers of Tums..." (The makers of Tums promote it as a source of calcium). The 2005 article does a better job of pointing this out, and that one of the authors is employed by the Tums maker. The 1998 CNN piece did not mention that the quoted researcher, Dr. Susan Thys-Jacobs, "is a consultant to and has a financial interest in SmithKline Beecham Consumer Brands," (the makers of Tums) at least as of a 2000 article she authored on the same topic (newer details not found).

I want to be very clear that I have not read the new study, so I do not dispute the results, and that may be possible that the drug company exerted no influence whatsoever over the study. I thought, though, that this was a good opportunity to point out that considering who is sponsoring or promoting research results can be important to consider, particularly if you get your health news from online news/magazines that may not provide full details. The published research articles may also provide details about side effects or negative results that are important to understand. If other studies sponsored by the drug company were done that did not show the reported benefits, have those results also been published? Have any other researchers been able to verify the work? Does the study measure what it claims to measure?

Just a friendly reminder to consider the source of ANY health information before acting on it. Consult with your health care provider about what is right for you!
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