I apologize for jumping in, but I did feel it necessary to respond to this. First, here are my comments with regard to the study.. I will address some of your stronger accusations in my next post.
As you know, the Baylor study was finally published. I have to say on behalf of Molecular Nutrition that we are extremely excited to see this paper finally hit the medical books. This study is the first one of its kind with arachidonic acid, and we had some great findings, and some very promising results to follow up on. For those unfamiliar with exactly what we saw during the study, let me rundown the results. Raw Data:
First, with regard to the raw data, the arachidonic acid group had higher numbers on all measures relating to body mass, strength, and performance. This includes Total body mass, DEXA lean mass, Leg press 1RM, Bench press 1RM, Wingate average power, Wingate anaerobic endurance, and Wingate relative peak power. The AA group also noticed higher levels of prostaglandins PGE2 and PGF2alpha, lower levels of inflammatory cytokine IL-6, and had no changes in any of the markers of safety. Significant Findings:
Those key measures that reached the level of "statistical significance", the ultimate threshold for legitimacy in a medical study, were 1) increased peak anaerobic power over the 50-day study, 2) reduced IL-6 (inflammatory marker) at 25 days, and 3) no adverse effect on any of the markers of safety during the 50 day study. Statistically Strong Findings:
Increases that reached the level of being considered "statistically strong" findings were increases in bench press 1RM, increased average anaerobic power, increased anaerobic endurance, reduced IL-6 levels at 50 days, and increased prostaglandin production. On Statistical Significance:
If the AA group did better on every measure, why is this not reported? In a non-publishable paper such results often are. But to enter the medical literate, the reviewers must be sure each result was not one of chance. After all, one group will always outperform another in a 2-group study. Statistical significance is required, which tries to assure mathematically that an observed relationship could not have occurred by pure chance. The threshold is usually a "95% confidence interval", which means that there was a 95% probability that the relationship between the variables was valid, and only a 5% or less probability it could have been a chance finding. A statistically strong finding is usually one of 80% CI or better. Statically strong trends are generally not reported in published papers, but, as in our case, are often reported in conferences and early abstracts to inform other scientists that this is an area worthy of more research
The arachidonic acid study was a small study. It was the first of its kind, and funded by Molecular Nutrition at a time when the product was still very young and our resources very limited. With these constraints we opted to fund a study with only 15 participants in each group. We knew going in that it would be difficult to reach statistical significance in small groups like this, as inter-individual variability might easily blur the strength of the data. But we were resigned to study it as best we could. In our case, we had great overall numbers, but it only took a couple of people in the placebo group to make good gains to drop below the threshold of statistical significance on many measures. This is one of the reasons it is much better to fund studies with large groups. As the populations increase, the effect that individual variables may have on the outcome (mathematically) can be reduced.
With the great success we've had with X-Factor and arachidonic acid licensing in recent months, we are in a much different position now than we were 2.5 years ago, and are preparing for another much larger study at the present time. We've also been working on some new strategies for our next phase of testing. In addition to using more participants, we are also looking at ways to better homogenize the groups. We'd like to work perhaps with more experienced athletes/bodybuilders to minimize placebo gains, and are even contemplating an adaptation period to training, as one of the drawback with the present study was that all individuals had to conform to a new weight lifting routine, which in of itself often stimulates growth.
Overall this first study, even thou small, still gave us some incredibly great findings. We had some strong statistical trends on some very key measures, and even some statistically significant gains worthy of publication in the medical literature! For a first crack at a study of this sort, I have to say that it sure ain't bad. Of course an out-of-the park homerun would have been better, but we can expect only so much on our first small study. If we gained anything from this it was that 1) we did see AA increase performance strongly enough to reach statistical significance, even in a small study 2) AA supplementation produced statistically strong trends on many other measures of performance, supporting the need for another, more thorough study, 3) we reinforced that AA supplementation was perfectly safe, and 4) we noticed a statistically significant reduction in IL-6 levels, a central regulator of inflammation.
If you ask me, the IL-6 data was the single most important finding of the study, and worth every penny we spent on it. Beforehand, it was a very commonly held belief that AA supplementation would increase inflammation. We now have proof to the contrary, and even that it reduces inflammation. With the safety data on AA supplementation now overwhelming, and the performance data very strong, we really believe we are on the doorstep of a recognized "huge" breakthrough in the science of muscle growth and supplementation. As nearly all people who use it can attest, arachidonic acid can be an amazing anabolic supplement. We know that we've developed something extremely big here with AA, and look forward to funding more research studies into this nutrient.
I'd also like to commend Baylor for their hard work and dedication to the project!