It's a conundrum few researchers would hope to find themselves in.
Emerging evidence has turned the positive hypothesis you've long been basing your work off on its head - and the new findings are going displease a lot of people.
Particularly, powerful industry groups whose commercial interests are suddenly threatened, and are now poised to swap their support for pressure.
It was just such a situation that Distinguished Professor Ian Reid and his colleagues at Auckland University found themselves in as they began to debunk major myths around calcium supplements.
Not only did they reveal the supplements were ineffective in treating osteoporosis, they further demonstrated they could increase the risk of heart attacks in older people at times by as much as 30 percent.
It made it more important than ever, he said, that the research was carried out so meticulously that it stood up to the harshest of scrutiny - and indeed it has.
Around 50 percent of women and 30 percent of men aged over 50 are likely to sustain a fracture in their remaining lifetime, and osteoporosis with fracture is a major cause of disability, suffering, premature death, and health care expenditure in New Zealand and throughout the world.
As a result of work by Professor Reid, along with Associate Professor Mark Bolland and Andrew Grey - today among New Zealand's most highly cited researchers - calcium and Vitamin D are no longer routinely recommended to prevent osteoporosis.
It has brought about a reduction in calcium supplement prescriptions saving about $1.5 million each year in New Zealand.
While still a global multi-billion dollar industry, the global calcium supplements market has significantly reduced over the past few years as a direct result of the team's research.
Last night, Professor Reid was honoured with the country's top medal for science, the Rutherford Medal, along with the Liley Medal, for his contributions to the understanding and treatment of metabolic bone diseases such as osteoporosis and Paget's disease.
This afternoon, he and his team received New Zealand's other premier research award - the $500,000 Prime Minister's Science Prize - recognising their work for revealing the inefficacy of treating osteoporosis with calcium and Vitamin D.
The winning research extends over several decades, using a broad suite of high-quality clinical research studies, including patient-level analyses of six trials with almost 25,000 participants.
Professor Reid first became interested in researching calcium in the 1980s.
"It was widely used but it really had zero evidence-base for efficacy, so I really set out to demonstrate that calcium was effective."
Some high-profile studies in the early 1990s supported the hypothesis that calcium supplements influenced bone density in the spine and hips.
Soon after, what became known as the Auckland calcium study was launched to prove that calcium prevented fractures, along with its potential positive influence on heart attack risk.
"In some ways, that was when the wheels started to come off - we didn't demonstrate it brought a decrease and instead we saw a significant increase in fractures," Professor Reid said.
The same pattern was observed with heart attack.
"Once we started getting these results, which probably were not going to be palatable to a lot of the commercial vested interests, we basically cut ourselves off from support from related industry."
With support from the Health Research Council, the team pushed on, drawing on data from pools of patients numbering in the tens of thousands.
"It's critically important to have that non-tagged funding," he added.
"When you're told to go off and work with industry, that's fine if you're producing good news.
"But industry in general doesn't want to hold your hand and support you to produce bad news, and can bring quite substantial forces to bear to manipulate the bad news... or indeed suppress it."
Professor Bolland said the research has been a "transformational piece of science" because it had changed the clinical management of osteoporosis internationally, with very few people now needing to take these supplements.
"It's brought about a substantive change in thinking internationally," Professor Grey added.
"It was probably one of the most widely propagandered interventions in medicine, recommending older adults should supplement their calcium either with tablets or dairy food.
"It's a medical myth as it turns out."
Professor Reid said the research - most recently featured in an exhaustive scientific review in the British Medical Journal this year - provided an exciting platform for new discoveries.
"We're now looking at why calcium supplements cause heart attacks and doing more research aiming to develop drugs to prevent osteoporosis.
"We are looking for cost effective medical interventions to preserve the bones."
The goal was to develop an easy intervention to prevent fractures, and that might involve injections as infrequently as every five years.
"Further laboratory-based research is under way to discover what goes wrong with bone cells as people age and what causes fractures.
"We are working with orthopaedic surgeons to make artificial constructs to repair damage to bones and tendons and developing artificial bone substitutes."
The team felt the prize was a fantastic acknowledgement for all those who have been working with them for so many years.
"It gives us a substantial resource to reinvest in research, in young researchers working in our group, and to bring in some new PhD students," Professor Reid said.
"We will be able to expand what we are already doing and finance some specific research projects.
"New Zealand also stands to benefit considerably as the recognition enhances New Zealand's reputation for first rate clinical research."
The Prime Minister's Science Prizes: the other winners
• The Prime Minister's 2015 MacDiarmid Emerging Scientist Prize was today awarded to Dr Alex Taylor from the University of Auckland, whose research focuses on trying to understand how humans think differently from the rest of the animal kingdom by studying the cognitive and problem solving ability of birds, particularly New Caledonian crows.
His research is at the forefront of a shift in understanding animal intelligence and has fundamentally changed how intelligence across the animal kingdom is viewed.
• The Prime Minister's 2015 Science Teacher Prize has been won by Tania Lineham who leads the science department at James Hargest College in Invercargill.
Ms Lineham is focused on teaching science skills for the 21st Century to students of all abilities.
She has helped James Hargest build an outstanding track record of students succeeding in local and national science-based competitions and being selected to attend international events and has also introduced science courses for those intending to take up trade apprenticeships.
• The Prime Minister's 2015 Future Scientist Prize has been won by 18 year-old, Georgia Lala from Auckland's Diocesan School for Girls for the development of an innovative aquaponics system for growing edible plants indoors, enabling families to reduce the amount of commercially grown crops that they purchase each week.
The roots of the lettuces Georgia grew were able to take up nutrients from water in the gold fish tank she was using, recycling the fish waste and the bacteria that naturally occurs in a tank.
She will study biomedicine at the University of Auckland next year.
• The Prime Minister's 2015 Science Media Communication Prize has been presented to Dr Ian Griffin, director of the Otago Museum and an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Otago's Department of Physics.
Under Dr Griffin's leadership, science communication has become a key focus for the Museum which is investing $3.5 million in the next two years to create a world-class science engagement facility.
Outside of work, Dr Griffin is a self-described evangelist for astronomy and the beauty of the night sky.