T Nation

Understanding Research Studies?


How did some of you that are well educated on HRT know what research papers are legit and which ones aren't?
I have been pouring over everything I can read and have come across several studies that contradict each other. How do you ascertain the validity of the author or research findings in general?


you don't.

All you can do is pick and choose based on your symptoms and track record or responses to medications, and then pray for the best.

or hopefully find a doctor who is educated and up to date on all things HRT.


First, some in-vivo [in a living body] papers are explorations of how the body works and theory. The body is challenged with certain drugs/chemicals to alter an operating parameter, then the test how a system responds. In these studies, doses can be quite high and the reported amounts must not be taken as dose recommendations and the drugs/chemicals may not be safe and the paper was not interested in finding and warning about side effects. When the studies are conducted on animals, the animal may have its brain removed for analysis of enzymes etc. Side effects were not an issue.

Some papers report in-vitro [test tube] results that do not translate into useable therapies. Example, a drug that is toxic to other systems.

Some papers eval drugs/chemicals delivered by IV that are quite useless as an oral agent. Many products are sold that reference such research results, but are ineffective.

Some papers look like they were written by high school kids. This happens with bogus internet drugs and promones.

When studies contradict each other, you may be not reading things properly, in terms of the objective of the papers. One in-vitro may be exploring cause and effect and demonstrating that agent X alters state of Y. The other paper may show that in-vivo does not work or causes fatal complications resulting from changes to Z in rats....


Thanks Ksman and Purechance. One of the contradictions that caught my eye was about DHEA. One study stated that it should be taken weekly, while the other states daily. It was pretty cut and dry as far as how and why.
I was just curious as to what you guys looked for in studies that validated it for you.

Thanks for the explanation


Great post! And people need to recognize this.

Having taken undergrad and grad level biostats and a research review for my thesis, I learned that researchers are not always looking at what is practical or applicable for daily life with drugs or nutrition. They're simply researching how the body responds, and that's it.

I'm not saying that one needs graduate level biostatistics or research methodology classes but there are quite a few people reading studies who don't know how to interpret or CRITIQUE, or even CRITICIZE them.

1) How many subjects?
2) Is the information applicable to real life?
3) How long was the study?
4) Was it well controlled? Was there a washout period?
5) How does it measure up to other studies?
6) Can you find a meta-analysis or traditional literature review on the topic the study dealt with?


And are the trends and results in the study SIGNIFICANT (P < 0.05)?


And do yourself a favor and get the book Studying a Study and Testing a Test, available here:


I joined to ask you a question. 50 yr old male w/T-level of 307. Have appmnt tomorrow with Dr. Mellinger. My drive is minimal. Do you think he will be able to help


Dr. Mellinger is my doctor. Did you find out about him through my thread? Please tell him Bradley referred you.

Dr. Mellinger doesn't like seeing anyone under 300.

Do I think he'll be able to help? Dude, the guy is one of the best around! Did you see his CV and the amount and quality of work he's done professionally and academically/scientifically? I mention him to anyone who nees to get fixed up.

If people in LI or NYC have a problem with hypogonadism and fertility, there are only a select few men to go to, and he's one of them.


I don't do private messaging here. So if you want to talk more, get at me with the contact info on my hub page.

Dr. Mellinger's CV is here: http://www.impotencespecialists.com/dbfls/cvs/mellinger.htm


re DHEA: While DHEA once a week may work ok, constant levels are always going to be more favorable. You can say the same about many drugs and hormones. The consideration is dosing convenience. No real contradiction. You can easily figure out what is optimal and what is marginal.


Here's an example of a HIGH LEVEL meta-analysis, offering an OBJECTIVE outlook on studies.

Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Feb;83(2):260-74.

Effects of variation in protein and carbohydrate intake on body mass and composition during energy restriction: a meta-regression 1.
Krieger JW, Sitren HS, Daniels MJ, Langkamp-Henken B.

Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition and of Statistics, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611-0370, USA.

Comment in:

Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Jun;83(6):1442-3.

BACKGROUND: It is unclear whether low-carbohydrate, high-protein, weight-loss diets benefit body mass and composition beyond energy restriction alone.

OBJECTIVE: The objective was to use meta-regression to determine the effects of variations in protein and carbohydrate intakes on body mass and composition during energy restriction.

DESIGN: English-language studies with a dietary intervention of > or =4200 kJ/d (1000 kcal/d), with a duration of > or =4 wk, and conducted in subjects aged > or =19 y were considered eligible for inclusion. A self-reported intake in conjunction with a biological marker of macronutrient intake was required as a minimum level of dietary control. A total of 87 studies comprising 165 intervention groups met the inclusion criteria.

RESULTS: After control for energy intake, diets consisting of < or =35-41.4% energy from carbohydrate were associated with a 1.74 kg greater loss of body mass, a 0.69 kg greater loss of fat-free mass, a 1.29% greater loss in percentage body fat, and a 2.05 kg greater loss of fat mass than were diets with a higher percentage of energy from carbohydrate. In studies that were conducted for >12 wk, these differences increased to 6.56 kg, 1.74 kg, 3.55%, and 5.57 kg, respectively. Protein intakes of >1.05 g/kg were associated with 0.60 kg additional fat-free mass retention compared with diets with protein intakes < or =1.05 g/kg. In studies conducted for >12 wk, this difference increased to 1.21 kg. No significant effects of protein intake on loss of either body mass or fat mass were observed.

CONCLUSION: Low-carbohydrate, high-protein diets favorably affect body mass and composition independent of energy intake, which in part supports the proposed metabolic advantage of these diets.


Am I on the hub page?


Thanks..I guess it is that simple


Thanks...will do