I recently came across two different titles reporting on the same Alzheimer’s research. Each title carries a different meaning; neither hints at the likely meaning. The research involved lifestyle interventions with people taking the Alzheimer’s drug memantine. The people with the lifestyle interventions showed significant cognitive improvements over the people with no interventions.
Before I report on the titles let me say that, despite being a lifestyle activist in regards to fighting dementia, I do not automatically dismiss all drugs. I went with the two drugs recommended when Cindy was first diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, memantine (Namenda) and donepezil (Aricept). I halted donepezil in response to problems Cindy was reporting. With no knowledge of what drugs she was taking Cindy reported that the symptoms were gone three days after I halted the donepezil.
I’ve continued memantine to this day, not because it has much of an impact on Cindy’s cognitive function, in my view it doesn’t. It does, however, seem to help her mood at the end of the evening. Anything that will help Cindy in any way I will do, my advocacy for lifestyle factors aside. That being said, let’s get to those two titles regarding the research.
This title is misleading because it implies that the care program worked better with the drug. We don’t know how the care program worked without the drug. Memantine was administered in all cases, with varying effect.
At least this title conveys that the drug, not the care program, is the treatment with varying effectiveness. However, one still assumes from the title that it is the combination of the two that is effective, when it could be the care program alone. Plenty of studies confirm what the care program involves slows cognitive decline. Indeed, taken all together, this could be an indictment of memantine, a much different conclusion than drawn from the first title, but care programs alone do not draw income for pharmaceuticals.
Like I said, we still use memantine, for other reasons than cognitive function. I’m not opposed to all use of drugs; only to the pervasive marketing of drugs that shapes our beliefs and behaviors to create dependency on drugs for the primary solution to health matters.