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Fountain of Youth?

Researchers say no anti-aging treatment has been proven effective

Researchers say no anti-aging treatment has been proven effective

June 30, 2002|BY CHRIS COPLEY

chrisc@herald-mail.com

When it comes to aging, the truth is not comforting: we will all grow older and eventually die.

We try to hide aging with Botox injections. We try to fight aging with vitamin E supplements or wrinkle creams and now hucksters are promising customers can turn back the clock with human growth hormone injections.

These treatments are becoming so popular that 51 scientists who research human aging have issued a warning: "No currently marketed intervention - none - has yet been proved to slow, stop or reverse human aging." And they've issued it in Scientific American. That warning was picked up and reiterated in a front page story in AARP's Bulletin.

The fact is, we can't hold back the inevitable.

Not that modern science and health care haven't helped. Antibiotics, improved sanitation and safer autos and roadways are only a few of the developments that have led to the highest life expectancy rates in recorded history.

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"We're seeing many people living into their 90s and 100s," says Dr. Cindy Kuttner-Sands, medical director of the extended care facility at Washington County Hospital. "It's thought that maximum lifespan might be 105."

But longer lives lead to a longer period of exhibiting the symptoms of aging, Kuttner-Sands says.

"People experience changes in skin and hair, changes in bone mass that can result in bone fracture," she says. "There are hormonal changes and changes in heart and lung that lead to heart disease and emphysema."

There is no magic bullet that "cures" old age. We all grow older. But debate is raging over therapies some people say truly do reduce or repair the effects of aging.

Turning back the clock

With members of the Baby Boom generation in their 40s and 50s, a huge market has developed for therapies claiming to eliminate or hide the effects of aging. The recent craze of Botox injections to relax wrinkles is one example.

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