Mouth cancer data faked, journal says

A study claiming to find that anti-inflammatory drugs including ibuprofen reduce the risk of mouth cancer in smokers was based on falsified data, according to the medical journal that published the research.

Jon Sudbø of the Norwegian Radium Hospital and the University of Oslo presented the findings last year at a cancer-research meeting in Anaheim, Calif. (SN: 5/7/05, p. 302: Available to subscribers at Anti-inflammatories cut risk of mouth cancer) and in the Oct. 15, 2005 Lancet. Through his lawyer, Sudbø has admitted that he made up the 908 patients cited in the paper. Lancet is seeking a retraction.

Other papers authored by Sudbø are also under scrutiny, and officials of the Norwegian Radium Hospital said that they are reviewing all of Sudbø’s research.

A study in the April 26, 2001 New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) showed photographs of two supposedly distinct types of abnormal mouth tissue. In a statement published online Jan. 20, and in print in the Feb. 9 issue, NEJM says that these photos were the same and that the journal is awaiting the results of the review by Sudbø’s institution. The statement says that another NEJM Sudbø paper is also in doubt.

Moreover, in the March 20, 2005 Journal of Clinical Oncology, Sudbø falsely claimed to have obtained blood samples from volunteers, according to Sudbø’s lawyer.

The revelation comes on the heels of another case of fraud in medical science. Recently, South Korean researcher Woo-Suk Hwang—who claimed to have cloned the first human embryonic stem cell lines—was found to have faked the data in two studies published in Science (SN: 12/24 & 31/05, p. 406: Stem Cell Controversy: Scientist is retracting landmark finding; 1/14/06, p. 20: Available to subscribers at Faked Finds: Human stem cell work is discredited.). Science has retracted both papers.

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