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The Alzheimer Conundrum:
Entanglements of Dementia and Aging
Margaret Lock

Shortlisted for the 2014 Mavis Gallant Prize for Non-Fiction, Quebec Writers' Federation

Paperback | 2015 | $24.95 | £16.95 | ISBN: 9780691168470
Hardcover | 2013 | $29.95 | ($17.97) / £19.95 | (£11.97) | ISBN: 9780691149783
328 pp. | 6 x 9 | 12 line illus.
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Due to rapidly aging populations, the number of people worldwide experiencing dementia is increasing, and the projections are grim. Despite billions of dollars invested in medical research, no effective treatment has been discovered for Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia. The Alzheimer Conundrum exposes the predicaments embedded in current efforts to slow down or halt Alzheimer’s disease through early detection of pre-symptomatic biological changes in healthy individuals.

Based on a meticulous account of the history of Alzheimer’s disease and extensive in-depth interviews, Margaret Lock highlights the limitations and the dissent associated with biomarker detection. Lock argues that basic research must continue, but should be complemented by a public health approach to prevention that is economically feasible, more humane, and much more effective globally than one exclusively focused on an increasingly harried search for a cure.

Margaret Lock is the Marjorie Bronfman Professor Emerita in the Department of Social Studies of Medicine and the Department of Anthropology at McGill University.


"[T]houghtful . . . convincing. . . . Margaret Lock is an extremely sharp critic of the Alzheimer's scene."--W. F. Bynum, Times Literary Supplement

"[A] diligent survey of research, literature, conferences, and interviews. . . . Lock proves that the science of the disease is just as compelling as poignant accounts from caregivers and those suffering from Alzheimer's disease. Lock highlights just how much we don't know, from problems with Alzheimer's pathology, testing, and diagnosis to the search for a drug treatment. . . . While science plugs away at solving the Alzheimer's conundrum, Lock's call for improved care and social support takes on a new urgency."--Publishers Weekly

"[Lock] delivers key concepts in epidemiology, neuroscience and genetics in a way that is both scholarly and free of unnecessary technical details. Lock's bird's-eye view and mix of diverging sources of information is refreshing. . . . For its wide scope and balanced critical evaluation, The Alzheimer Conundrum is an inspiring read for everyone working in the field."--Eus Van Someren, Nature

"Comprehensive, cogent, and densely detailed, The Alzheimer Conundrum provides a useful antidote to media hype about 'silver bullets' that are 'just around the corner' and makes an important contribution to our understanding of an achingly tragic disease that touches virtually all of us."--Glenn Altschuler, Psychology Today

"The Alzheimer Conundrum: Entanglements of Dementia and Aging is a welcome addition to a body of work that has so productively explored the historical contingencies, cultural specificities, and philosophical dilemmas that surround and shape bodies and people's understandings and inhabitances of them."--Aaron Seaman, Somatosphere

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Table of Contents:

Acknowledgments ix
Orientations 1
Chapter 1 Making and Remaking Alzheimer Disease 26
Chapter 2 Striving to Standardize Alzheimer Disease 51
Chapter 3 Paths to Alzheimer Prevention 76
Chapter 4 Embodied Risk Made Visible 100
Chapter 5 Alzheimer Genes: Biomarkers of Prediction and Prevention 132
Chapter 6 Genome-Wide Association Studies: Back to the Future 156
Chapter 7 Living with Embodied Omens 174
Chapter 8 Chance Untamed and the Return of Fate 207
Chapter 9 Transcending Entrenched Tensions 229
Afterword: Portraits from the Mind 243
Notes 247
Bibliography 277
Index 301

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