A retraction as a group’s papers on smoking and weight loss are too close for comfort

The American Journal of Physiology Endocrinology and Metabolism is retracting a 2009 article by Japanese researchers who appeared to be so fond of their data they published them thrice.

The paper, “Dual suppression of adipogenesis by cigarette smoke through activation of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor and induction of endoplasmic reticulum stress,” by Masanori Kitamura and colleagues, looked at the biochemical mechanism by which cigarette smokers seem to be able to keep weight off. It has been cited eight times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

But according to the retraction notice:

The authors retract this article because it contains data already published in two of their previous reports: “Suppression of adipocyte differentiation by Cordyceps militaris through activation of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor” (Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 295: E859–E867, 2008) and “Unexpected blockade of adipocyte differentiation by K-7174: implication for endoplasmic reticulum stress” (BBRC 363: 355–360, 2007).

The authors offer apologies to the readers for this error and for any inconvenience associated with the publication of the article. The paper is being retracted by the American Physiological Society at the request of Dr. Kitamura and with the approval of the coauthors (N. Hiramatsu, K. Hayakawa, S. Takahashi, A. Kasai, Y. Tagawa, J. Yao, and Y. Fujii-Kuriyama). Dr. Kitamura has signed the retraction on behalf of T. Shimada and M. Mukai because they are no longer in the laboratory where the research was carried out and their new contact information could not be found.

We found a similar article, “Induction of apoptosis by cigarette smoke via ROS-dependent endoplasmic reticulum stress and CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein-homologous protein (CHOP),” from Kitamura’s group. It appeared in 2008 in the journal Free Radical Biology and Medicine (which, with creative punctuation could take on several meanings).

We’re curious what triggered the retraction action, and when, in the AJPEM, which is a publication of the American Physiological Society. Was it a request by Kitamura? Or did one or more readers spot the overlap? We’ve reached out to the journal for comment and will update this post if we learn anything.

Update, 8 p.m. Eastern, 10/28/11: We heard back from Rita Scheman, director of publications and executive editor of the American Physiological Society:

The APS does not address inquiries regarding perceived or actual publications ethics matter (e.g., a retraction) involving an individual or individuals with others not directly involved in the matter.  The APS has a transparent  and rigorous publications ethics policy and accompanying procedures, which are publicly available on our website (see www.the-aps.org/publications/authorinfo/index.htm)  to address apparent and real transgressions of this policy.  

While many of us involved in publications ethics at the APS follow Retraction Watch, which raises the profile of publications ethics in a responsible way, the APS must handle the public face of publications ethics in a way that it deems responsible and consistent with its policies.

5 thoughts on “A retraction as a group’s papers on smoking and weight loss are too close for comfort”

  1. This issue of repeated publication of the same results is not uncommon. I won’t name names, but there is at least one person who published pretty much the same article at least 3 separate times, in very widely dispersed journals (Australian, Scandinavian, American), and then his resume has a lot of papers, although it is about 3x longer than it should be. Same with another group of researchers back in the 1980s, who would publish in applied statistics areas in psychometrics and marketing. The two communities did not overlap that much, so the repetition in their papers was not noted. Plus back then there were no text evaluation tools available. In many cases, it is possible to rewrite a paper without changing it as well, and get a two-fer in that way.

  2. Perhaps because much of what passes as science is now merely “administered”.
    Once upon a time it was an accepted rule when dealing with civil servants that documents did not exist unless they were submitted in “triplicate”!

  3. They have created a fear that is based on nothing’’
    World-renowned pulmonologist, president of the prestigious Research Institute Necker for the last decade, Professor Philippe Even, now retired, tells us that he’s convinced of the absence of harm from passive smoking. A shocking interview.

    What do the studies on passive smoking tell us?

    PHILIPPE EVEN. There are about a hundred studies on the issue. First surprise: 40% of them claim a total absence of harmful effects of passive smoking on health. The remaining 60% estimate that the cancer risk is multiplied by 0.02 for the most optimistic and by 0.15 for the more pessimistic … compared to a risk multiplied by 10 or 20 for active smoking! It is therefore negligible. Clearly, the harm is either nonexistent, or it is extremely low.

    It is an indisputable scientific fact. Anti-tobacco associations report 3 000-6 000 deaths per year in France …

    I am curious to know their sources. No study has ever produced such a result.

    Many experts argue that passive smoking is also responsible for cardiovascular disease and other asthma attacks. Not you?

    They don’t base it on any solid scientific evidence. Take the case of cardiovascular diseases: the four main causes are obesity, high cholesterol, hypertension and diabetes. To determine whether passive smoking is an aggravating factor, there should be a study on people who have none of these four symptoms. But this was never done. Regarding chronic bronchitis, although the role of active smoking is undeniable, that of passive smoking is yet to be proven. For asthma, it is indeed a contributing factor … but not greater than pollen!

    The purpose of the ban on smoking in public places, however, was to protect non-smokers. It was thus based on nothing?

    Absolutely nothing! The psychosis began with the publication of a report by the IARC, International Agency for Research on Cancer, which depends on the WHO (Editor’s note: World Health Organization). The report released in 2002 says it is now proven that passive smoking carries serious health risks, but without showing the evidence. Where are the data? What was the methodology? It’s everything but a scientific approach. It was creating fear that is not based on anything.

    Why would anti-tobacco organizations wave a threat that does not exist?

    The anti-smoking campaigns and higher cigarette prices having failed, they had to find a new way to lower the number of smokers. By waving the threat of passive smoking, they found a tool that really works: social pressure. In good faith, non-smokers felt in danger and started to stand up against smokers. As a result, passive smoking has become a public health problem, paving the way for the Evin Law and the decree banning smoking in public places. The cause may be good, but I do not think it is good to legislate on a lie. And the worst part is that it does not work: since the entry into force of the decree, cigarette sales are rising again.

    Why not speak up earlier?

    As a civil servant, dean of the largest medical faculty in France, I was held to confidentiality. If I had deviated from official positions, I would have had to pay the consequences. Today, I am a free man.

    Le Parisien

  4. Not 1 Death or Sickness Etiologically Assigned to Tobacco. All the diseases attributed to smoking are also present in non smokers. It means, in other words, that they are multifactorial, that is, the result of the interaction of tens, hundreds, sometimes thousands of factors, either known or suspected contributors – of which smoking can be one.

    Don’t fret over list of cancer ‘risks’

    [[“We are being bombarded” with messages about the dangers posed by common things in our lives, yet most exposures “are not at a level that are going to cause cancer,” said Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, the American Cancer Society’s deputy chief medical officer.
    Linda Birnbaum agrees. She is a toxicologist who heads the government agency that just declared styrene, an ingredient in fiberglass boats and Styrofoam, a likely cancer risk.
    “Let me put your mind at ease right away about Styrofoam,” she said. Levels of styrene that leach from food containers “are hundreds if not thousands of times lower than have occurred in the occupational setting,” where the chemical in vapor form poses a possible risk to workers.
    Carcinogens are things that can cause cancer, but that label doesn’t mean that they will or that they pose a risk to anyone exposed to them in any amount at any time.]]

    Now,Im glad to see the ACS admitting to the dose response relationship finally!

    So now we understand why the following is factual:

    [[are hundreds if not thousands of times lower than have occurred in the occupational setting,” where the chemical in vapor form poses a possible risk to workers.]]

    Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology, Vol. 14, No. 1. (August 1991), pp. 88-105.

    [[ETS between 10,000- and 100,000-fold less than estimated average MSS-RSP doses for active smokers]]


    [[OSHA the components in tobacco smoke are diluted below existing Permissible Exposure Levels (PELS.) as referenced in the Air Contaminant Standard (29 CFR 1910.1000)…It would be very rare to find a workplace with so much smoking that any individual PEL would be exceeded]]


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.