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US Independent panel determines that there is insufficient evidence that preventive measures reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease

Wednesday 28 April 2010

An independent panel convened by the US National Institutes of Health has determined that “there is currently no evidence of even moderate scientific quality supporting the association of any modifiable factor—dietary supplement intake, use of prescription or non-prescription drugs, diet, exercise, and social engagement—with reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease. The evidence surrounding risk reduction for cognitive decline is similarly limited. Low-grade evidence shows weak associations between many lifestyle choices and reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease and cognitive decline.” Therefore, the panel has called for more public understanding that such “proposed prevention strategies are currently, at best, only loosely associated with improved outcomes.” The panel found that the two non-modifiable risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease are age and a genetic variant of a protein( apolipoprotein E).

The panel acknowledged that whilst there is little evidence exists that modifiable risk factors may prevent Alzheimer’s disease, that they can nevertheless be associated with other benefits.

The panel recommended that the research community and clinicians collaborate to develop, test, and uniformly adopt objective measures of baseline cognitive function and changes over time and they made a number of recommendations regarding the future research agenda.

The conference panel chair, Dr Martha L Daviglus said “"Alzheimer's disease is a feared and heart-breaking disease. We wish we could tell people that taking a pill or doing a puzzle every day would prevent this terrible disease, but current evidence doesn't support this."

The 15-member panel included experts in the fields of preventive medicine, geriatrics, internal medicine, neurology, neurological surgery, psychiatry, mental health, human nutrition, pharmacology, genetic medicine, nursing, health economics, health services research, and family caregiving.

For further information please see the article “Independent Panel Finds Insufficient Evidence to Support Preventive Measures for Alzheimer's Disease” on the US National Institute of Health website at:

http://www.nih.gov/news/health/apr2010/od-28.htm

The conference was webcast live. Links to the archived webcast will be available at http://consensus.nih.gov/2010/alz.htm

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