Once again patients are told they can’t handle the truth (subscription only):
“The worry,” says Bill Thies, vice president of medical and scientific relations at the Alzheimer’s Association, is that patients may react to positive results in “inappropriate” ways. “Will they become fully depressed?” he says. “If that’s the case, then you’re going to obscure any public-health benefit.”
God forbid an Alzheimer’s diagnosis ever bums anyone out…Anyway, thankfully, not everyone presumes to know what’s best for you. And they appear to have actual science on their side:
“What we’ve been showing is that we can disclose APOE to people who are interested and they do not seem to have a whole lot of ill effects,” said Dr. Robert C. Green, a director of the study and a professor of neurology, genetics and epidemiology at Boston University. “There is some temporary increase in distress at six weeks, but at six months it’s gone.”
Some want the information to make financial and legal arrangements in case they become demented, and some who find out that they have e4 start trying to take better care of themselves. Not surprisingly, those who find out they do not have e4 are relieved, even though it does not guarantee that they are in the clear.
“Not everyone wants to know, but the people who want to know really want to know, and they have their own reasons,” Dr. Green said. “I think it’s a little patronizing for the medical establishment to say, ‘We could give you that test, but we don’t think you can handle it.’”