Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Exercise and Alzheimer's: How to fix the demented media

I read yet another bulletin declaring that "exercise can prevent alzheimer's". Sigh. The elderly who exercise 3 times a week are 50% less likely to be diagnosed with dementia. All that means is that it's worth funding more research. My bet is that a loss of commitment to exercise is an early indicator of a dementing process.

Some of the stupidest coverage came from the Wall Street Journal. I was feeling annoyable today, so I did a quick study. Someone who needs a pub should write this up as a letter to Lancet. I bet they'd get a nice cite.

I googled on the news: exercise alzheimer's - Google News:
Exercise Research
WOWT, NE - 18 hours ago
... More research is needed to better understand how exercise may help protect against diseases like Alzheimer's, but for now researchers say one thing is clear ...
Research Notebook, OR - 6 hours ago
... years, 158 had developed dementia, including 107 diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease ... older adults who exercise Another study that looked at physical activity in ...
Study: Exercise May Reduce Risk of Alzheimer's Disease
ABC News - Jan 16, 2006
... Researchers emphasize that this study is not proof that exercise reduces the risk of Alzheimer's disease, but they say the results are consistent with several ...
Alzheimer's Disease May Be Prevented With Exercise
Fashion Monitor Toronto, Canada - 23 hours ago
... The six core strategies to prevent Alzheimer's disease include exercise, diet, a program of vitamin and herbal supplementation, regular brain stimulation, a ...
Exercise Not Enough to Prevent Alzheimer's Disease PR Web (press release)
all 3 related »
Exercise Significantly Reduces Risk of Dementia in Senior Citizens, TX - Jan 16, 2006
... growing evidence that exercise – particularly if it starts early and is maintained over time - is beneficial in preventing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease ...
Health Roundup: Alzheimer’s And Exercise, Sibling Drinking ...
NBC, PA - Jan 16, 2006
... The things that reduce our risk for Alzheimer's are: exercise, reducing our cholesterol with statins, eating a lower fat diet and lowering our blood pressure ...
Exercise associated with reduced risk of dementia in older people
EurekAlert (press release), DC - Jan 16, 2006
... Additional study also may provide information on the possible merits of varying types of exercise. For information about Alzheimer's disease, visit the ...
It turns out that about half of the top-ranking Google results used "may" and a few even used "associated with" (they get five stars). The rest, alas, were as dismal as the Wall Street Journal.

So here's how to shame the media into doing better. JAMA should run a report after each report of a finding associated with reduced cancer, dementia, etc. The journalist can simply execute a Google News search and extract the titles. Titles are then ranked for words like "may" and (best) "associated with". Report the results by dividing press into "Good", "Bad" and "Ugly" categories.

After six months on the "Ugly" list, the Wall Street Journal gets a special prize.

Eventually, they improve.

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