Your Benefit, My Risk:  Why evidence should be clearly communicated whether or not it is complete

My cousin loves motorcycles.  But when his wife became pregnant, he got rid of the bike.  The risk of injury and death didn’t become greater, but my cousin’s tolerance for that risk had dropped. 

Our decisions depend on how we weigh potential risks and benefits.  Patients, caregivers, regulators, and health care providers may weigh risks and benefits in different ways.  Recent efforts from groups like FasterCures have been improving the transparency and consistency of how benefits and risks are gauged to make healthcare decisions.  These efforts were discussed in a recent post from Kimberly McCleary of FasterCures. 

When it comes to Alzheimer’s prevention, the risks and benefits become less clear because there are no magic bullets against Alzheimer’s and we rarely know who will develop the disease.  Alzheimer’s disease is probably easier to prevent than cure, but the science of prevention is challenging and expensive.  Scientists are unlikely to obtain conclusive evidence for prevention strategies within the next 20 years but some evidence does exist today.   

At the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation, we believe that everyone has the right to judge for themselves the risks and benefits of a given action for their health.  That’s why we created Cognitive Vitality – a source of information on the available evidence for risks and benefits of potential strategies that have been suggested by others to improve long-term brain health.  That’s also why we wrote an editorial in the medical journal JAMA Neurology on the idea that Evidence Needs to be Translated, Whether or Not it is Complete

We hope this information will help people understand the risks, the benefits, and the unknowns of dementia prevention, to empower each person to make their own choices for long-term health and cognitive vitality.

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