The science has developed huge in the last decades, so the scientific method is the best one to prove the effectiveness of dietary supplements. Because that’s what I’m going to talk about. Clinical studies which are linked to dietary supplements. How to see if a clinical study is real and how to avoid false advertising that is based on biased or phony clinical studies. Clinical studies: True or fake? Let’s find out together.
How fake clinical studies are created?
Companies appeal so frequent to fake clinical studies that they became experts in manipulation of the masses. And the way they create the manipulation is not totally fake, by the way.
A company can go that far that it will even hire scientists to observe the studies and note the results and real human subjects who are paid to participate in the studies and have no clue about the deception. It will then hire experts in statistics to work with the numbers using overfitting method and p-hacking. According to Wikipedia, the base idea of these two terms is as follows:
- Overfitting – describes random errors instead of the underlying relationships. An overfitting statistical model is characterized by poor predictive performance because it is easy to overreact even to minor changes in the model’s data.
- P-Hacking – is the usage of data mining to reveal patterns that are then presented as significant.
A common ground of all fake clinical studies is the low number of humans subjects. Usually, these studies are done only on 10 to 30 people.
After the twitched results are on the same page with the company representatives’ desires, the company will send an article with the revolutionary study’s results to as many publications medical as possible.
Usually, at least one publication will publish the article with the fake study, and from there on it will be on autopilot because others will adopt the article as true and will republish it, and so on.
Nowadays, this is even more simpler to be done because we live in the era of technology and Internet.
Soon after, the same company will launch a revolutionary product which effectiveness it has been proven already by a real clinical study that appeared so many times in the mass media. Nobody knows that the study is fake.
Of course, there are also the biased studies which are another form of manipulation and deception.
A biased study is a real study, not fakes, but it is… biased, as their name says. Usually companies pay scientists to twitch the results of real studies to meet their agenda.
How to make the difference between true or fake?
Even though it will sound difficult, you should do your homework before buying a clinically approved supplement. And, honestly, I can’t find one good reason why you shouldn’t do it since it’s your health that’s in stake. Moreover, with the help of Google you’ll be at a few clicks away from any information you might need.
Find the persons involved in the clinical study.
The supplement’s official site is a great starting point since it will reveal (in the best cases) the manufacturing company.
Then, search online for every detail you want about that company. I recommend you to start with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) for US-based and Canada-based companies (or similar sites from your country if you reside outside the USA or Canada), since they’ll offer details on companies, such as when it was established, address, contact details. Additionally, BBB is rating the listed companies with ranks from A+ (highest) to F (lowest) and is offering access to forums of discussions related to each company in part.
If there are also details given regarding the study, such as the doctors involved or the clinic/institution where the study was conducted, do your research in that regard, too.
Also, you should check for connections between the company that asked for the study and the clinic/institution that conducted the study. Obviously, if they are somehow connected (affiliated), or if one is sponsoring the other, the seriousness of the study is questionable.
Moreover, if there are no details about the people involved in the clinical study, then that’s a reason good enough to drop the idea of buying that supplement.
Every clinical study is published somewhere, commonly in a medical publication. The source of publishing can tell you more than you imagine about how serious was the study.
You can always use the easiest way to find out more details about the publishers by searching their names on Google and see if they’ve been involved in scandals or if they are affiliated with the company that ordered the study.
Another great way to find those details to search the publishers on PubMed, which is a site that gathers citations and even articles from all the reliable medical publications.
How big was the clinical test.
This detail can make the difference between a true clinical study and a fake/biased one.
The bigger a study is, the more reliable it is. And that’s understandable why, since the clinical studies conducted on large samples are more appropriate to the true effectiveness of a supplement, for example.
Small studies, usually conducted on 15 or 20 subjects, are not offering large statistical significance since the sample size is too small. Additionally, the results of small studies are much easier to be twitched in comparison to the results of large scale studies.
The customers opinions.
Last but not least, customers opinions are really helpful in discovering if a clinical study is true or not.
Even though you should always filter the information through with your own mind, others opinions on a supplement may save you some time and money.
Usually, all the testimonials on supplements‘ official sites are fake but those on review sites are harder to be faked, therefore they are a reliable source of information on your subject of interest.
Many review sites have a bunch of loyal users who have been verified by the site’s administrators, turning them in verified reviewers which means that these people’s opinions are reliable and not biased.
Researching online on customers opinions on a clinical study can be easily done by a simple Google search.
Clinical Studies – True or Fake?
Mostly, the scam companies are already known and have lots of negative reviews. These companies are not to be trusted when claiming that their products are backed-up by real clinical studies.
On the other hand, when a new company emerges and sales a new supplement about which it claims to have proven effectiveness in clinical studies, a good research conducted by following the steps presenting in the previous section of this article can save you from various troubles.
In conclusion, fake clinical studies are more present in the supplements industry than you’ve ever imagined and that’s because manufacturing companies are not as thoroughly controlled by federal authorities such as the FDA, as other companies in the health and well-being domain.