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"Vitamin B12 may protect older brains from shrinking: study"


Source: CBC.CA

Published: 08 Sep 2022

Category: Other

Rating: (3½ stars)

what they said (Hover the mouse cursor over underlined words for more info)

Elderly people who have higher levels of vitamin B12 in their blood may gain some protection against brain shrinkage, a new study suggests.

The brain normally shrinks about 0.5 per cent per year in normal elderly brains, compared with 1 per cent in those with mild cognitive impairment and 2 per cent in the same time for those with Alzheimer's, said the study's lead author, pharmacology Prof. David Smith of the University of Oxford in Britain...

The original article can be found at:

how did it rate? (more information)

Criteria Rating
Total Score 5 of 8
Availability of Treatment Not Applicable
Novelty of Treatment Satisfactory (?)
Disease Mongering Satisfactory (?)
Treatment Options Satisfactory (?)
Costs of Treatment Not Applicable
Evidence Satisfactory (?)
Quantification of Benefits of Treatment Satisfactory (?)
Harms of Treatment Not Satisfactory (?)
Sources of Information Not Satisfactory (?)
Relies on Press Release Not Applicable
Quantification of harms of treatment Not Satisfactory (?)

what we said (Hover the mouse cursor over underlined words for more info)

This alternative medicine story was somewhat difficult to rate using Media Doctor's current rating criteria. Still, some important points arise from this review - mainly that this news report is quite well-developed.

Typically, Media Doctor might argue that a single, in-progress study does not warrant its own news report. However, this story is news because the research it cites marks a first in terms of realizing that there may be ways, within our control, to prevent and reduce brain shrinkage (a natural process in the elderly, which is exacerbated in patients with cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's).

The story also makes it clear that this correlation study between vitamin B12 levels and brain shrinkage rates is in-progress (results expected in 2009) and has not shown any explicit benefits. Given the lack of conclusive evidence and the preliminary nature of the results, it was no doubt that the story was difficult to report. Having said that, it might have been useful to include information on the recommended levels of B12 and whether there are risks associated with too much B12. This information could have been referenced from Health Canada's Natural Health Product registry at the following webpage:

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