Liggett Cigarette Company Paid For 2006 Lung Cancer Study

CT scanning, a promising approach to detecting lung cancer at early, treatable stages, has been dealt a setback with the revelation that the most prominent study so far in support of it was funded almost entirely by a cigarette company—with the funds funneled through a foundation set up by the study’s author, Dr. Claudia Henschke, reports the New York Times. Although the funding revelation doesn’t negate the results of the study, it raises huge conflict of interest flags and reveals how a tobacco company secretly influenced professional opinion by funneling $3.6 million into the foundation over a three year period.

The revelation raises several questions, including whether the tobacco company influenced the study, who knew the real source of the funding, and whether Weill Cornell Medical College—where Dr. Henschke is a faculty member—implicitly supported the foundation’s creation to hide the source of the funding. Two Cornell officials who sat on the board of the foundation have denied any knowledge of Liggett’s involvement.

Dr. Jerome Kassirer, a former editor of The New England Journal of Medicine and the author of a book about conflicts of interest, said he believed that Weill Cornell had created the foundation to hide its receipt of money from a cigarette company. “You have to ask yourself the question, ‘Why did the tobacco company want to support her research?’ ” Dr. Kassirer said. “They want to show that lung cancer is not so bad as everybody thinks because screening can save people; and that’s outrageous.”

“Cigarette Company Paid for Lung Cancer Study” [New York Times]


Edit Your Comment

  1. andrewe says:

    Damn. I’m out of smokes.

  2. Moosehawk says:

    Smoking causes lung cancer. Who knew?

  3. IrisMR says:

    Screening does save people. But it’s really a great idea to make sure you don’t get it in the first time.

    Be bright folks… Don’t smoke. Stop while you’re young. Too many lives were lost by this filthy shit, too many suffered directly and indirectly… Imagine yourself dying slowly from all of it, and imagine the pain of the people you love that have to see you die slowly.

  4. vastrightwing says:

    I’m shocked!

  5. BlueModred says:

    This is a non-issue. Brought up by the anti-tobacco lobby to make the tobacco companies look bad. If it’s good science it will stand up to the test of peer review and subsequent testing.
    If it’s not, it will be exposed as such. And I cannot believe the NE Journal of Med. would publish something like this without looking into its validity.

  6. lesbiansayswhat says:

    ‘If it’s good science..’ Thank goodness we have the AMA and EPA..look how wonderful for ‘good science’ they turned out to be.

    Nothing wrong with telling the public where research is coming from. Something wrong with hiding it.

  7. Ben Popken says:

    @BlueModred: Does the anti-tobacco lobby has much money as the tobacco lobby? Just wondering.

  8. landsnark says:

    @BlueModred: This most certainly is not a non-issue. Science depends on impartiality. This sort of conflict of interest pollutes primary scientific literature and slows down or reverses scientific progress.

  9. jren says:

    Duh, cig co’s don’t want you to die, so they can sell to their customers longer, they want you hooked, not dead. Smoke ’em if you got ’em.

  10. somecop says:

    @BlueModred: What in the blue fuckballs is the “anti-tobacco lobby”? Is that where people go to not-smoke? Or is that a word you use to describe people who think what you are doing to yourself is retarded? I should know…I did it for 15 years. Never, though, did I say something as stupid as “anti-tobacco lobby”.

  11. faust1200 says:

    “Good science” can be purchased by the highest bidder. Just like basically everything else.

  12. @Ben Popken: They do make a lot of money on sales of anti-cigarettes.

  13. arcticJKL says:

    @ Ben Popken
    Considering the government takes the money from the tobacco companies and gives it to the anti-tobacco lobby they seem to have a good amount of funding.

    The anti-tobacco lobby are the people who go around telling you not to smoke.
    The anti-tobacco lobby runs ads, indoctrinates children in schools, stages protests and works to get all tobacco ads removed.

  14. smackswell says:

    Smoke em if you’ve got em.

    Honestly, vilify the dealer. Please. I’m sure you’d shame the tobacco industry and talk about legalizing weed in the same breath. There are so many harmful substances out there that are found in your grocery store for your teenager to huff; moreover, substances that get tossed into our drinking water (without our consent,) and everyone picks on tobacco.

    I know it’s bad for me. I simply don’t care. Is the only way this kind of study going to be recognized is by being funded who wouldn’t have a vested interest in catching lung cancer early? The money has to come from somewhere.

    Companies fund research because they want the benefits of the results.

  15. mike says:

    @BlueModred: I sort of agree with this…

    Here’s the crux: Cig companies get nailed for not releasing studies that Nicotine is addictive. Then Cig companies get nailed for funding research into cancer.

    I understand the conflict of interest…but it seems like it’s a no-win situation for big tobacco. Not defending them…but it seems like we say they are horrible people.

    Instead of saying they are funding research, let’s just come out and say it: I hate Big Tobacco.

    I think cigareetes are horrible for you. I smoke cigars…not much better, mind you. Just being honest about my bias.

  16. mike says:

    @smackswell: I’m sure you’d shame the tobacco industry and talk about legalizing weed in the same breath.

    This sentance is swimming in truth. ;-)

    Heather Holloway: So why do you do it?
    Nick Naylor: Population control.
    –Thank You for Smoking

  17. Coles_Law says:

    The anti-tobacco lobby: Tied with the anti-oil lobby for “Most lopsided lobbying campaign ever”.

  18. Chols says:

    Everyone I go to school with says “smoking is soooo bad for you” but they says its ok to binge drink every weekend. I guess your liver is less important than your lungs…go figure.

  19. Beerad says:

    @arcticJKL: Ah yes, “indoctrinating children” with the crazy notion that health is a good thing. Jeez, remember the controversy when they started telling kids not to use cocaine! Crazy health nazis, huh?

    @smackswell: Okay, here’s the thing. I hate smoking a lot — that’s my perogative. But I totally recognize your right to enjoy your butts, as long as you aren’t blowing your smoke into our shared airspace. But surely you have to admit that a study funded by a group that has a financial benefit in a particular outcome has to be viewed as likely biased? It’s the same reason that pharmaceutical companies are under a lot of fire for shady research studies that they pay for — unsurprisingly, the negative results tend to get swept under the rug and only the ones promoting “Megasuperawesomex will make you live longer, have better sex, and be cooler than the next person in 50 out of 100 cases!” make it into full-color glossy magazine insert ads.

  20. crapple says:

    My grandfather-in-law retired from this company (when it was still L & M) and has had lung cancer 3 times…he still doesn’t think cigarettes are the cause. It’s enraging to me. He quit smoking in the early 80’s, but he thinks it’s all just a way for the gov’t to get more money from profitable business’s.

  21. Death says:

    My gf works in a lab that analyzes food. The lab and it’s studies are almost entirely funded by various components of the food industry, and test results unfavorable to their bottom line are generally quashed under threat of pulled funding. Big surprise there.

  22. Blueskylaw says:

    @Ben Popken:

    States overall increased their fiscal year 2008 funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs by 20 percent to a total of $717.2 million, the highest level in six years.

    Meanwhile, tobacco companies spend at least $13.4 billion each year to market tobacco products, which means that they spend almost $19 on tobacco marketing for every $1 states spend to prevent kids from smoking and to help smokers quit.

  23. Beerad says:

    @Blueskylaw: I’m sorry, I missed the part where you identified the costs to our health care system due to smoking and smoking-related illness, something which states have a legitimate interest in. Please add that in to the financial flowchart you’re drawing.

  24. Cthumer says:

    Whoever funded the study, if it saves lives, it’s good. People choose to smoke. The tobacco industry wants to help them stay healthy and smoking.

  25. Tonguetied says:

    States spend less on smokers than non-smokers because smokers die sooner so the net cost to the healthcare/welfare system is actually a negative number.

    I’m kinda confused by the negative reaction to this. This was a study for a way to scan for and detect lung cancer early. The financial interest for the tobacco companies is to find a method that works. If the method funded by this study doesn’t work then pretending that it does doesn’t help the tobacco companies bottom line.
    They benefit by developing a method of detecting the cancer early enough that it can be taken care of and that the smoker will live longer and smoke even more cigarettes. In the ideal scenario the tobacco companies would benefit greatly from developing methods that keep smokers from ever getting cancer while still puffing away at their cigs. Developing methods that don’t keep the smokers healthy just results in dead customers…

    In fact it could be argued that its the States that have an interest in not developing treatments for lung cancer. Smokers typically develop their diseases toward the end of their lives i.e. when they stop being productive members of society and instead become drains on the economy by going on Social Security and what not.

  26. trujunglist says:


    Everyone is dying slowly and painfully, some more than others.