The Inside Agenda Blog

Hype, Prevention and Good News

by Sandra Gionas Monday April 21, 2008

I’ve been to several conferences for journalists covering health and medical news and the biggest complaint researchers have, is the media over-hyping research studies.

Medical researchers hate it because often a study is in its very early stages and has a long way to go. Along the way, results often don’t pan out. Doctors hate it because they get swamped with requests for treatment or medications that are nowhere near approval, or may be more controversial than initially led to believe. From a human perspective, it also sells false hope to many patients and their families desperate for good news.

And so many of us in this field are careful on what we report and how we present it.

Yet, over the last while, I’ve been surprised by the number of reports on advances in Alzheimer’s research. It’s been like a cascade of good news and so when I approached tonight’s guest, geneticist Ekaterina Rogaeva, one of the first things I asked her was, “Is it just me or does it seem there’s are some really big advances in your field?”

She confirmed the good news.

Tonight you’ll hear about these advances — which ones are in use, which ones are close to being approved, which ones may not pan out and where researchers are increasingly directing their efforts in the fight against Alzheimer’s. According to the Alzheimer Society of Canada, by the time the last of the Baby Boomers turns 65, our Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia numbers will have doubled. The good news can’t come fast enough.

Also tonight, we have a feature interview with epidemiologist Devra Davis. Davis is the Director of the Center for Environmental Oncology at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute and the author of The Secret History of the War on Cancer. She has served a couple of different U.S. administrations in the war against cancer and has written an engrossing history what happened in that war in the back rooms among administrators, health officials, research scientists and corporations. Don’t miss it!

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