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Specific guide to this web site for:

 1.  Medical School
      in Statistics

 2.  Medical Students

 3.  Science media writers

 4.  High School & College
     Statistic Teachers


1. Harvard led MI study

2. JACC study 

   (J. of Amer. Coll.

3. NEJM cath study

4. Amer. J. of Cardio.
    review of literature


Oat bran study

Pregnancy & Alcohol

Are Geminis really
9. Columbia 'Miracle' Study  

Additional Topics:


Limitations of Meta-Analyses

Large Randomized Clinical Trials

Tale of Two Large

Advocate meta-analyses

Network meta-analyses




Death of the Oat Bran Fad

Oat bran contains soluble fiber.  Ingestion of soluble fiber tends to lower cholesterol levels.  In 1990, a fad existed in the United States consisting of eating oat bran muffins and other oat bran foods because the media had reported studies that indicated oat bran tended to lower cholesterol.

Then in 1990, an article in The New England Journal of Medicine1 received wide media publicity.  This article incorrectly concluded that oat bran "has little cholesterol-lowering effect" and that wheat bran and oat bran supplements "reduce serum cholesterol about equally.".  

In this study 20 volunteers, many of them young healthy dieticians with low cholesterol values at baseline were evaluated to determine the effect of ingesting oat bran compared to wheat bran. 

The study was flawed in studying a very small group of individuals with preexisting low cholesterol values and generalizing the results to the population at large. Studying a very small group of patients can lead to missing important differences that may be documented using a study with a larger number of patients.

Following the wide spread media attention that followed the publication of this article, the oat bran fad ended.

1. Swain JF, Rouse,IL, Curley CB, Sacks FM.  Comparison of the effects of oat bran and low-fiber wheat on serum lipoprotein levels and blood pressure. N Engl J Med 1990; 322:147-52.