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The Claim: Aspirin Can Reduce the Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease

Rating

2 Star

The Claim: Aspirin Can Reduce the Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease

Our Review Summary

This story – about whether aspirin can prevent Alzheimer’s disease – only ran about 210 words.  It could have used more space to clear up the confusion it causes in reviewing the evidence.  The results of the most recent research on the topic, though conducted as a randomized clincial trial, were disregarded in favor of the more appealing result – i.e. that a common, readily available product can be used to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

It would have been far more useful to explain about why there may be discrepancies between research studies, how a reader might go about assessing the information, and, when there are differences in outcomes,  how one can make a decision about the options.

The story stated that “people who took a low dose of aspirin every day for several years reduced their risk of developing Alzheimer’s by 13 percent.”  However the study itself reported that use of low-dose aspirin did not result in a significant reduction in Alzheimer’s disease.  Thus the story did not accurately report on these results and compounded this with its concluding statement.

The story only listed stomach bleeding and ulcers as side effects of aspirin.  The story also failed to include information about often it occurs.  However as this is a story about prevention of Alzheimer’s disease, it should have mentioned that the bleeding risks associated with aspirin use increase with age.

No experts were quoted; some expert help was needed on this story.

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Applicable

There was no information about the cost of treatment, though, again, knowledge about this product, including its cost, is widespread.

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Satisfactory

The story stated that “people who took a low dose of aspirin every day for several years reduced their risk of developing Alzheimer’s by 13 percent.”  However the study itself reported that use of low-dose aspirin did not result in a significant reduction in Alzheimer’s disease.  Thus the story did not accurately report on these results and compounded this with its concluding statement.

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

The story only listed stomach bleeding and ulcers as side effects of aspirin.  The story also failed to include information about often it occurs.  However as this is a story about prevention of Alzheimer’s disease, it should have mentioned that the bleeding risks associated with aspirin use increase with age.

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?

Not Satisfactory

The evidence presented in this story was confusing.  Although the most recent research was a randomized clincial trial, the writer chose to disregard these results in favor of epidemiologic study which found that HIGH doses of aspirin were associated with a statistically lower prevelance of Alzheimer’s disease.  This study found no significant association with low dose aspirin; further, the conclusion reads as follows:  “Aspirin might protect against Alzheimer’s disease, but controlled trials are warranted.”  So it is presumptuous for the journalist to conclude “Regular aspirin use may lower the risk of Alzheimer’s.”

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

There was no overt disease mongering in this story.

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?

Not Satisfactory

This story did not appear to contain material obtained from individuals with expertise in this area.  No one was quoted.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

There was no discussion of any other approaches under investigation for prevention or delay of Alzheimer’s disease.

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Applicable

Although the story did not explicitly state that low-dose aspirin is a readily available, over-the-counter product, this information is common knowledge.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Satisfactory

The story accurately explained that studies examining whether aspirin can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease have been conducted over a period of time.

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?

Satisfactory

This story appears to have drawn on the results from different research studies and does not appear to rely exclusively on a press release.

 

Total Score: 3 of 8 Satisfactory

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