CHOP Research in the News

Dec 30 2013

CHOP Research in the News

Research and investigators from The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute are often cited in a variety of news stories, columns, and investigative articles. Here are just a few of the recent news reports featuring investigators from CHOP Research:

Skip the Supplements, Says Dr. Offit

Children’s Hospital’s Paul Offit, MD, co-authored a New York Times editorial on Dec. 15 titled “Skip the Supplements.” In the piece Dr. Offit, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases, and co-author Sara Erush, the clinical manager of the Hospital’s Pharmacy Department, discuss the misconception that vitamins and supplements can only improve health and not hurt it.

Not many consumers are aware that, by Food and Drug Administration estimates, there are approximately 50,000 adverse reactions to dietary supplements each year, the authors say.

“But the Food and Drug Administration doesn’t regulate dietary supplements as drugs — they aren’t tested for safety and efficacy before they’re sold,” the authors say. “Many aren’t made according to minimal standards of manufacturing (the FDA has even found some of the facilities where supplements are made to be contaminated with rodent feces and urine). And many are mislabeled, accidentally or intentionally.”

Dr. Offit was also featured in a Dec. 18 New York Times article, “How the Vitamin Industrial Complex Swindled America.” In July Dr. Offit published his latest book, Do You Believe in Magic?: The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine. An examination of the science and science fiction behind megavitamins, supplements, and alternative treatments like coffee enemas and laetrile, in his book Dr. Offit notes that “there’s no such thing as conventional or alternative or complementary or integrative or holistic medicine … there’s only medicine that works and medicine that doesn’t.”

Examining Breast Cancer Survival Disparities

And in a separate Dec. 20 New York Times article, a Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) paper by CHOP’s Jeffrey Silber, MD, PhD, regarding causes of breast cancer survival disparities received some additional news coverage.

The director of CHOP’s Center for Outcomes Research, Dr. Silber lead a study published in July that showed differences in how breast cancer patients present at diagnosis are more responsible for racial disparities in 5-year survival than treatment disparities. With their study, the investigators sought to determine whether racial disparity in breast cancer survival — particular that between white and black women — was due to the way patients were treated or to their presentation at diagnosis.

The JAMA study was mentioned in a recent article about the breast cancer survival rates among black women. In particular, the article focused on the stories of several black women from Memphis, Tenn., “the deadliest major American city for African-American women with breast cancer,” according to the New York Times article.

“Despite 20 years of pink ribbon awareness campaigns and numerous advances in medical treatment that have sharply improved survival rates for women with breast cancer in the United States, the vast majority of those gains have largely bypassed black women,” notes the article, “Tackling a Racial Gap in Breast Cancer Survival.”

To read more about these and the many other studies currently underway at CHOP Research, see the Institute’s website.