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  1. Re:Association is not causation

    BMJ approached the authors for their comments, but did not receive a response. This case was reviewed by two external peer reviewers prior to publication. It uses cautious language throughout and correctly offers no definitive conclusions. BMJ Case Reports is not responsible for claims made in other media.

    Conflict of Interest:

    I am the Publishing Executive for BMJ Case Reports

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  2. Association is not causation

    Zaidi et al conclude that "Dietary supplements, such as curcumin, may be beneficial for some myeloma patients". This is on the basis of their single case report; in other words it is an anecdote. In contrast, the medicinal chemistry of curcumin has been studied in depth for many years. Nelson et al conclude that, despite over 120 clinical trials, no beneficial effect has been observed (1).

    I am wondering about how rigorous was the peer review of this case report. Did the reviewers evaluate what was the more likely explanation, in the light of the published literature?

    I note that Zaidi et al cite a review by Aggarwal et al in 2009 (2). Several papers from this author were withdrawn in or about 2012 as possibly fraudulent (3), casting doubt on his authority. I do not think this oversight reflects well on the authors of the present case report, or on its reviewers.

    This case report has recently attracted substantial attention from the lay media. Exaggerated claims have been made on national radio. Yet there is good evidence that cancer patients who rely on alternative treatments such as plant extracts have worse outcomes (4). Was it really responsible of the BMJ to publish this report in its present form?

    References

    1. Nelson KM, Dahlin J, Bisson J et al. The Essential Medicinal Chemistry of Curcumin. J Med Chem. 2017 Mar 9; 60(5): 1620-1637.

    2. Aggarwal BB, Harikumar KB. Potential therapeutic effects of curcumin, the anti-inflammatory agent, against neurodegenerative, cardiovascular, pulmonary, metabolic, autoimmune and neoplastic diseases. Int J Biochem Cell Biol 2009;41:40-59.

    3. Ackerman T. M.D. Anderson scientist, accused of manipulating data, retires. Houston Chronicle, March 2, 2016 Updated: March 4, 2016. http://bit.ly/2AHTN20 (accessed 8th Jan 2018)

    4. Johnson SB, Park HS, Gross CP et al. Use of Alternative Medicine for Cancer and Its Impact on Survival. Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Volume 110, Issue 1, 1 January 2018

    Conflict of Interest:

    I have had smouldering myeloma for nine years but have not required treatment.

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