TAMPA, Fla (Ivanhoe Newswire)— African Americans are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease as older white Americans. Despite the increased risk, people of color are significantly underrepresented in clinical trials. More on a Super Bowl champ who is using his voice to raise awareness of the health disparities and encourage others to actively support cutting- edge research.
Michael Clayton remembers vividly the feeling of winning a national college championship at LSU. Being drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. And after being released from the Bucs— winning Super Bowl XLVI with the Giants!
As vivid as these memories are now, will there be a day when Clayton doesn’t remember? Clayton shared with Ivanhoe, “I’m pretty sure it’s going to happen.”
Clayton believes football head injuries may put him at higher risk for dementia. So does his family history. His grandparents Manny and Ethel both struggled with what he believes was Alzheimer’s.
“Deterioration starts to set in and you’re hearing these horror stories from Mom. The only thing I can do is advocate and talk about the deficiencies, and maybe the right people hear to make a difference,” Clayton expressed.
Amanda Smith, MD, Director of Clinical Research at USF Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute and professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences at USF Health Morsani College of Medicine explained, “We know that there are a lot more people of color with Alzheimer’s disease than come to memory clinics or participate in clinical trials.”
It’s estimated that 90 percent of the participants in NIH funded trials are non-Hispanic whites. Health experts acknowledge a long-standing mistrust of the medical community but say minority participation is critical.
“To know that a treatment works in all people, we have to test it in all people,” Dr. Smith elaborated.
Michael Clayton says he is hopeful that researchers find more treatment options— sooner, rather than later.
“All that I can do is just enjoy the day to day, make the difference that I can make and if I do experience that then that’s God’s will not mine,” Clayton concluded.
Dr. Smith and other experts say mistrust of the medical community in the African American community dates back to abuses during the Tuskegee Syphilis Trials. Smith says clinical trials are carefully monitored, and participants can choose to withdraw at any time. People can find more information at www.clinicaltrials.gov, or the Alzheimer’s Association Trial Match at www.alz.org.
Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Executive Producer & Field Producer; Roque Correa, Videographer & Editor.