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Your Benefit, My Risk

Your Benefit, My Risk

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.

We created Cognitive Vitality because we believe that everyone has the right to make informed decisions about the risks and benefits of a given action for their health. The site is designed to be a credible source of information on the available evidence for and against potential strategies to improve brain health and prevent dementia. We explain our view on the need to interpret research in a recent editorial in the medical journal JAMA Neurology, "Evidence Needs to be Translated, Whether or Not it is Complete."

Our decisions depend on how we weigh potential risks and benefits. Patients, caregivers, regulators, and health care providers likely weigh them in different ways. Recent efforts from groups such as 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 are less clear because there are no magic bullets, and we rarely know who will develop the disease. The science of Alzheimer’s disease prevention is expensive and challenging, so the evidence is currently inconclusive. But some evidence does exist today (and more is coming) that can guide decision-making. We hope this information will help people understand the risks, benefits, and unknowns of dementia prevention, to empower each person to make their own choices for their cognitive vitality.

Dr. Penny Dacks was previously the Director of Aging and Alzheimer’s Disease Prevention at the Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation. She was trained in neuroscience at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, the University of Arizona, and Queen's University (Canada) with individual fellowships from the National Institute of Health, the Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Research Foundation, the ARCS Foundation and the Hilda and Preston Davis Foundation. She has authored over 18 peer-reviewed scientific articles and is a member of the Society for Neuroscience, the Gerontological Society of America, the Endocrine Society and the Association for Women in Science.

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