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Am J Epidemiol. 2008 May 1;167(9):1017-26. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwn005. Epub 2008 Apr 10.

How much of the data published in observational studies of the association between diet and prostate or bladder cancer is usable for meta-analysis?

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Department of Social Medicine, University of Bristol, Bristol, United Kingdom.

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  • Am J Epidemiol. 2009 Aug 15;170(4):536.


Epidemiologic investigations often report dose-response associations, which may be combined in meta-analyses. The authors examined how often the log odds, risk, or hazard ratio per unit increase in exposure, and its standard error, can be estimated from results reported from observational studies of diet and prostate or bladder cancer so that results are usable in meta-analyses estimating dose-response associations. Eight electronic databases were searched for studies reporting on the association of diet, nutrition, or physical activity with these cancers. A total of 767 papers reported 3,284 results; 1,999 (61%) results, reported in 545 (71%) papers, were usable in dose-response meta-analyses. The most important reason that results were not usable was the absence of sufficient information on exposure levels in the different groups. The proportion of results usable in "high-low" meta-analyses (comparisons of extreme categories) was similar (62%). Results that showed evidence of an association were more likely to be usable than results that found no such evidence. Insufficient detail in reporting of results of observational studies can lead to exclusion of these results from meta-analyses and is an important threat to the validity of systematic reviews of such research. Results providing evidence of associations may be overrepresented in meta-analyses of observational studies.

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