Demenita and anemia: Important finding; irresponsible reporting

2 Aug

A study published in the journal Nuerology reports that anemia, the name for a low red blood cell level,  may predict dementia in older adults. The author report a hazard ratio of 1.64, this means that an older person who receives a diagnosis of anemia is 1.64 as likely to develop dementia.

This in an important finding and does suggest that steps, such as vitamin B12 supplementation, might reduce the risk of dementia. However, the authors are quick to point out that this research is correlational and we can not say with certainty that treatment of anemia will reduce your risk of dementia until additional research is completed.

Some media, such as the New York Times, have covered this story accurately and responsibly. But other outlets have not. For example, U.S. Science News headlines the story this way:

“Eat steak to reduce risk of dementia, scientists claim”

In fact, the article actually contradicts itself advising you to eat steak at one point and advising you to eat a Mediterranean diet, which is a low in meat, at another. One site even advises you to eat liver to avoid dementia.

A meat centered diet is known to increase your risk of vascular dementia, so this is very dangerous advice. For good information on sources of B12 see this post by Dr. Greger.


One Response to “Demenita and anemia: Important finding; irresponsible reporting”

  1. teresa August 2, 2013 at 2:08 pm #

    Anemia is too vague a term. There are over 400 different types of anemia. Anemia can be caused by blood cell loss, or poor blood cell production. All anemia means is that the hemoglobin is low. The study is meaningless unless you know the cause of the anemia. For example, someone can have an ulcer, and loosing blood through the intestine. Another person can be starving and have low B12. The effects on overall health is very different

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