Conflicts of interest in nutrition research: this week’s example
Selenium, antioxidants, cardiovascular disease, and all-cause mortality: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. David JA Jenkins, David Kitts, Edward L Giovannucci, Sandhya Sahye-Pudaruth, Melanie Paquette, Sonia Blanco Mejia, Darshna Patel, Meaghan Kavanagh, Tom Tsirakis, Cyril WC Kendall, Sathish C Pichika, and John L Sievenpiper. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 112, Issue 6, December 2020, Pages 1642–1652
Background: “Antioxidants have been promoted for cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk reduction and for the prevention of cancer. Our preliminary analysis suggested that only when selenium was present were antioxidant mixtures associated with reduced all-cause mortality.”
Results: No association of selenium alone or antioxidants was seen with CVD and all-cause mortality. However, a decreased risk with antioxidant mixtures was seen for CVD and all-cause mortality when selenium was part of the mix.
Conclusion: The addition of selenium should be considered for supplements containing antioxidant mixtures if they are to be associated with CVD and all-cause mortality risk reduction.
Comment: The results are statistically significant, but not by much (RR: 0.90; 95% CI: 0.82, 0.98; P = 0.02); the Confidence Interval reaches 0.98, which is very close to 1.00, which would show no difference. But that’s not the real reason for my interest in this one. The real reason in this astounding conflicts-of-interest statement and the disclaimer that follows it.
Conflicts of interest
DJAJ has received research grants from Loblaw Companies Ltd, the Almond Board of California, Soy Nutrition Institute (SNI), and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). He has received in-kind supplies for trials as a research support from the Almond Board of California, Walnut Council of California, American Peanut Council, Barilla, Unilever, Unico, Primo, Loblaw Companies, Quaker (Pepsico), Pristine Gourmet, Bunge Limited, Kellogg Canada, and WhiteWave Foods. He has been on the speakers’ panel, served on the scientific advisory board, and/or received travel support and/or honoraria from the Loblaw Companies Ltd, Diet Quality Photo Navigation (DQPN), Better Therapeutics (FareWell), Verywell, True Health Initiative (THI), Heali AI Corp, Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), Soy Nutrition Institure (SNI), Herbalife Nutrition Institute (HNI), Herbalife International, Pacific Health Laboratories, Nutritional Fundamentals for Health (NFH), the Soy Foods Association of North America, the Nutrition Foundation of Italy (NFI), the Toronto Knowledge Translation Group (St. Michael’s Hospital), the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine, The Hospital for Sick Children, the Canadian Nutrition Society (CNS), and the American Society of Nutrition (ASN). He received an honorarium from the USDA to present the 2013 W. O. Atwater Memorial Lecture. He is a member of the International Carbohydrate Quality Consortium (ICQC). His wife, Alexandra L Jenkins, is a director and partner of INQUIS Clinical Research for the Food Industry; his 2 daughters, Wendy Jenkins and Amy Jenkins, have published a vegetarian book that promotes the use of the plant foods advocated here, The Portfolio Diet for Cardiovascular Risk Reduction; and his sister, Caroline Brydson, received funding through a grant from the St. Michael’s Hospital Foundation to develop a cookbook for one of his studies. CWCK has received grants or research support from the Advanced Food Materials Network, Agriculture and Agri-Foods Canada (AAFC), Almond Board of California, American Peanut Council, Barilla, Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Canola Council of Canada, International Nut and Dried Fruit Council, International Tree Nut Council Research and Education Foundation, Loblaw Brands Ltd, Pulse Canada, and Unilever. He has received in-kind research support from the Almond Board of California, American Peanut Council, Barilla, California Walnut Commission, Kellogg Canada, Loblaw Companies, Quaker (PepsiCo), Primo, Unico, Unilever, and WhiteWave Foods/Danone. He has received travel support and/or honoraria from the American Peanut Council, Barilla, California Walnut Commission, Canola Council of Canada, General Mills, International Nut and Dried Fruit Council, International Pasta Organization, Loblaw Brands Ltd, Nutrition Foundation of Italy, Oldways Preservation Trust, Paramount Farms, Peanut Institute, Pulse Canada, Sun-Maid, Tate & Lyle, Unilever, and White Wave Foods/Danone. He has served on the scientific advisory board for the International Tree Nut Council, International Pasta Organization, McCormick Science Institute, and Oldways Preservation Trust. He is a member of the International Carbohydrate Quality Consortium (ICQC), is Executive Board Member of the Diabetes and Nutrition Study Group (DNSG) of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD), is on the Clinical Practice Guidelines Expert Committee for Nutrition Therapy of the EASD and a director of the Toronto 3D Knowledge Synthesis and Clinical Trials foundation. JLS has received research support from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation, Ontario Research Fund, Province of Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation and Science, Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Diabetes Canada, PSI Foundation, Banting and Best Diabetes Centre (BBDC), American Society for Nutrition (ASN), INC International Nut and Dried Fruit Council Foundation, National Dried Fruit Trade Association, The Tate and Lyle Nutritional Research Fund at the University of Toronto, The Glycemic Control and Cardiovascular Disease in Type 2 Diabetes Fund at the University of Toronto (a fund established by the Alberta Pulse Growers), and the Nutrition Trialists Fund at the University of Toronto (a fund established by an inaugural donation from the Calorie Control Council). He has received in-kind food donations to support a randomized controlled trial from the Almond Board of California, California Walnut Commission, American Peanut Council, Barilla, Unilever, Upfield, Unico/Primo, Loblaw Companies, Quaker, Kellogg Canada, WhiteWave Foods, and Nutrartis. He has received travel support, speaker fees, and/or honoraria from Diabetes Canada, Dairy Farmers of Canada, FoodMinds LLC, International Sweeteners Association, Nestlé, Pulse Canada, Canadian Society for Endocrinology and Metabolism (CSEM), GI Foundation, Abbott, Biofortis, ASN, Northern Ontario School of Medicine, INC Nutrition Research & Education Foundation, European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), Comité Européen des Fabricants de Sucre (CEFS), and Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. He has or has had ad hoc consulting arrangements with Perkins Coie LLP, Tate & Lyle, Wirtschaftliche Vereinigung Zucker e.V., and Inquis Clinical Research. He is a member of the European Fruit Juice Association Scientific Expert Panel and Soy Nutrition Institute (SNI) Scientific Advisory Committee. He is on the Clinical Practice Guidelines Expert Committees of Diabetes Canada, European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD), Canadian Cardiovascular Society (CCS), and Obesity Canada. He serves or has served as an unpaid scientific advisor for the Food, Nutrition, and Safety Program (FNSP) and the Technical Committee on Carbohydrates of the International Life Science Institute (ILSI) North America. He is a member of the International Carbohydrate Quality Consortium (ICQC), executive board member of the Diabetes and Nutrition Study Group (DNSG) of the EASD, and director of the Toronto 3D Knowledge Synthesis and Clinical Trials foundation. His wife is an employee of AB InBev. DK, ELG, SS-P, MP, SBM, DP, MK, TT, and SCP have no conflicts of interest to declare.
Disclaimer: The authors have no relevant conflicts of interest over the past 4 y. DJAJ has received funds for dietary studies from Loblaws, which, during the course of his funding, acquired Shopper’s Drugmart, which is a pharmaceutical company that also sells supplements.
Comment: Here’s one reason why I am not a fan of dietary supplements. Most independently funded studies show no significant benefit when they are given to healthy people. The industry needs studies like these for marketing purposes. I’m not, but if you are worried about selenium, try food.