Lancet cancer study a hoax

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Friday, January 20, 2006

In Norway, the Oslo and Akershus County Medical Officer has announced that it is launching an inquiry into a possible scientific hoax, involving cancer researchers from Norway, the U.S. and Finland.

In October 2005, the Norwegian researcher Jon Sudbø along with 13 co-authors published the study in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet. The study claimed to detect a positive effect of ibuprofen in preventing oral cancer in smokers, based on a controlled case-study, entailing several hundred patients. On the basis of this study, a broader prospective multicenter study was to be started in 2006, partly funded by the U.S. National Cancer Institute.

On January 17th 2006 however, the Radium Hospital in Oslo, Norway announced that there were strong suggestions that the whole study was a hoax. The patient material presented appeared to be invented, and thus the whole study seems to be fraudulent.

The Radium Hospital in Oslo has hired an autonomous investigative committee to look into the matter, led by the Swedish epidemiologist Anders Ekbom from the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm. The editor of the Lancet, Richard Horton, said that this was the worst research fraud he has dealt with in his time at The Lancet.

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