November 1976

Beware the 200-Word Abstract!

Arch Intern Med. 1976;136(11):1232-1233. doi:10.1001/archinte.1976.03630110008005

A television commentator was on the telephone: "I am interested in writing a story about a recent report from a national medical convention. The claim was made that atherosclerosis can be reversed with the use of drastic dietary restriction of fat in combination with an exercise regimen." Acting upon his request, I investigated the study protocol of this so-called research. I learned to my dismay that the "researchers" were far more adept in public relations than they were in structuring an adequate clinical trial. The control group of subjects was grossly inadequate, and for this and many other reasons, the conclusions were suspect. Indeed, "suspect" is the kindest word that can be used to describe the interpretation of the data. The commentator received comparable opinions from a number of sources; and fortunately, these purveyors of a "miraculous breakthrough" in the treatment of atherosclerosis were denied a national forum on television.

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