How Pre-Clinical Studies May Mislead You: Foods That Prevent Bone Loss (or Do They?)

We’re all familiar with the catchy headlines and ads that recommend products, recipes and diets. Some are garbage (Oz Effect anyone?), while some have completely valid human clinical studies. But beware of the pre-clinical studies that are in the murky area between hard-fact-health-benefit, and pure marketing.

Our view is not that every headline or claim is deliberate beguilement. Rather, some gray area exists and education can help you discern what to believe.

Pre-clinical studies are valuable tools to reduce medical research costs and improve the speed to results because they can provide guidance and direction without a full-blown study.

But a pre-clinical study alone is not sufficient for the structure function claims used in dietary supplements, medical foods or drugs (or most any other product for that matter).

Below are 3 examples of pre-clinical studies with catchy headlines that could easily be misread or manipulated in a news or Twitter feed.

Don’t be fooled. Some of these studies are done in petri-dishes (cells only), and others in animal models. The FDA or the FTC would not likely accept these as substantial enough to make a claim.

To be clear: follow on studies to the examples below may in fact show that these foods have real benefits. The point of this post is to educate our readers to go beyond the headline and ask, “is this a human clinical or pre-clinical study”?

As always, do not believe everything that you read on the internet!

First Example

Article Title: Pomegranate Peel Extract Prevents Bone Loss in a Preclinical Model of Osteoporosis and Stimulates Osteoblastic Differentiation in Vitro


PGPE may be effective in preventing the bone loss associated with ovariectomy in mice, and offers a promising alternative for the nutritional management of this disease.

Full link Here

Second Example

Title: Virgin Coconut Oil Supplementation Prevents Bone Loss in Osteoporosis Rat Model


In conclusion, VCO was effective in maintaining bone structure and preventing bone loss in estrogen-deficient rat model.

Full link Here

Final Example

Title: Olive oil in the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis after artificial menopause


EVOO illustrated significant anti-osteoporosis, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer properties in vivo. However, further studies are required to determine the active component(s) responsible for these effects.

Full article here

Thanks for reading. Feel free to contribute to the discussion.



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