The anti-aging movement is a social movement of physicians and other health providers and patients devoted to reducing the effects of and reversing aging. A substantial portion of the attention of the movement is on the possibilities for life extension, but there is also interest in techniques such as cosmetic surgery which ameliorate the effects of aging rather than delay or defeat it.
Two popular proponents of the anti-aging movement include Ray Kurzweil, who thinks humanity can defeat aging through the advance of technology, and Aubrey De Grey, who thinks the human body is a very complicated machine and thus, can be repaired indefinitely. Other scientists and significant contributors to the movement include molecular biologists, geneticists, and biomedical gerontologists such as Gary Ruvkun, Cynthia Kenyon, and Arthur D. Levinson.
- 1 Anti-aging medicine
- 2 Scientific Approaches
- 3 Mass movement
- 4 Realistic and modest appraisal
- 5 Criticism
- 6 See also
- 7 Notes
- 8 Further reading
Anti-aging medicine has become a budding and rapidly growing medical specialty as physicians who initially sought treatment for themselves have received training and certification in its practice by organizations such as the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine (A4M).
Human growth hormone
Some recent clinical studies have shown that low-dose GH treatment for adults with GH deficiency changes the body composition by increasing muscle mass, decreasing fat mass, increasing bone density and muscle strength, improves cardiovascular parameters (i.e. decrease of LDL cholesterol), and affects the quality of life without significant side effects. Central to anti-aging medicine is administration of human growth hormone (HGH), It has the effect, in adults, of increasing muscle mass, reducing fat, and increasing energy. It also has dangerous side-effects. But anti-aging practitioners claim it is safe at low dosage. It is not approved for use in healthy aging patients. That restriction is sidestepped by means of a diagnosis of some injury or organic condition, adult growth hormone deficiency, which supposedly has resulted in reduced secretion of the hormone.
Menopausal hormone drugs
Administration of Estrogen and other hormones such as progestin were popularized by the 1966 book, Feminine Forever by Robert A. Wilson. However, the increase of the use of estrogen was shown to be associated with an increased risk of cancer. Later, in 2002, research into the long-term effects of estrogen on post-menopausal women, the Women’s Health Initiative, produced evidence that there were serious side effects. Physicians who prescribe the hormones now prescribe low doses of the drugs. Research into the long-term effects of HRT are continuing, with a 2009 Cochrane review concluding that long-term use may decrease the risk of bone fractures, but increase the risk of stroke, heart attacks and breast cancer.
Annual World Congress on Anti-Aging Medicine & Regenerative Biomedical Technologies
An annual conference is held which in addition to presentations by the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine (A4M), offers booths and presentations by manufactures of products and providers of services. The 17th annual conference was held December 9–12, 2009 at the THEhotel at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada. According to the A4M website key conference topics:
- Alternative cancer therapies
- Sleep disorders
- Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy
- Facial rejuvenation
- Weight Management including non-invasive procedures for obesity
- DNA mitochondrial repair
- Infectious disease and restoring the immune system
- Exercise physiology for seniors
- Metabolic-cellular detoxification
- Hormone restoration in men and women
- IV parenteral mutrition
Age Management Medicine
Age Management Medicine distinguishes itself from anti-aging by being a more evidence based, proactive, preventative approach to healthcare for an aging population focused on preservation of optimum human function and quality of life making every effort to modulate the process of aging prior to the onset of degenerative aging. Led by the Age Management Medicine Group (AMMG), which provides education and information on the specialty of Age Management Medicine to physicians and healthcare professionals through evidence-based continuing medical education conferences, workshops, seminars, certifications, publications and web media.
A substantial fraction of older people, taking their cue from alternative medicine, purchase and use herbal supplements and other products which promise relief from the incidents and dangers of aging. These products are nearly always useless and sometimes are harmful.
Realistic and modest appraisal
There is a great deal of over-heated rhetoric in use with respect to life extension with over-optimistic projections on the part of its advocates. There is little evidence that any significant break through has been made, or is on the horizon, however, this is largely due to a current lack of funding or interest in the issue. A study of the common supplements and hormone treatments used published in 2006 in the Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine showed that none of them are effective with respect to extending life.
Though there is no scientific reason to think curing aging is impossible, there are some criticisms of both the time frame life extensionists envision (the first, perhaps somewhat crude, treatments within the next several decades, or at least before the beginning of the 22nd century) and of whether curing aging is even desirable. Common criticisms of the idea of life extension are fears it will cause the world to be more overpopulated; however De Grey counters that by saying that since menopause would also be delayed, women could wait longer to have children and thus, the rate of growth would actually decline as a result. Also, the slowly growing population would buy centuries of time to figure out new places to live, such as space colonies.
- Mykytyn, Courtney Everts (February 2006). "Anti-aging medicine: A patient/practitioner movement to redefine aging". Social Science & Medicine 62 (3): 643–653. doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2005.06.021. ISSN 0277-9536. PMID 16040177. Retrieved 2009-12-05.
- Alexander, Brian (21 April 2008). "Mainstream docs join anti-aging bandwagon. But with M.D. endorsements, is the field more credible — or risky?". MSNBC. Archived from the original on 15 September 2009.
- Alexopoulou O, Abs R, Maiter D (2010). "Treatment of adult growth hormone deficiency: who, why and how? A review". Acta Clinica Belgica 65 (1): 13–22. doi:10.1179/acb.2010.002. PMID 20373593.
- Ahmad AM, Hopkins MT, Thomas J, Ibrahim H, Fraser WD, Vora JP (June 2001). "Body composition and quality of life in adults with growth hormone deficiency; effects of low-dose growth hormone replacement". Clinical Endocrinology 54 (6): 709–17. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2265.2001.01275.x. PMID 11422104.
- Savine R, Sönksen P (2000). "Growth hormone - hormone replacement for the somatopause?". Hormone Research 53 (Suppl 3): 37–41. doi:10.1159/000023531. PMID 10971102.
- Ronald Klatz, Grow Young with HGH: The Amazing Medically Proven Plan to Reverse Aging Harper Paperbacks (May 8, 1998), trade paperback, 400 pages ISBN 0-06-098434-1 ISBN 978-0060984342
- "Selling The Promise Of Youth" cover story Business Week March 20, 2006
- "Aging: Disease or Business Opportunity?" article by Duff Wilson in The New York Times April 15, 2007
- Robert A. Wilson, Feminine Forever, M. Evans and Company, Inc. (June 15, 1968), hardcover, ISBN 0-87131-049-X ISBN 978-0871310491
- "The Epidemic of Endometrial Cancer: A Commentary"
- "Findings from the WHI Postmenopausal Hormone Therapy Trials"
- Farquhar C, Marjoribanks J, Lethaby A, Suckling JA, Lamberts Q (2009). Farquhar, Cindy, ed. "Long term hormone therapy for perimenopausal and postmenopausal women". Cochrane Database Syst Rev (2): CD004143. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD004143.pub3. PMID 19370593.
- Convention, WorldHealth.Net
- "Anti-aging science: The emergence, maintenance, and enhancement of a discipline" article by Jennifer R. Fishman, Robert H. Binstock, and Marcie A. Lambrix in Journal of Aging Studies Volume 22, Issue 4, December 2008, Pages 295-303 doi:10.1016/j.jaging.2008.05.010
- 'Health Products for Seniors: "Anti-Aging" Products Pose Danger for Physical and Economic Harm' report by the GAO September, 2001
- Turner, Leigh (2004). "Biotechnology, bioethics and anti-aging interventions". Trends in Biotechnology 22 (5): 219–221. doi:10.1016/j.tibtech.2004.03.008. PMID 15109806.
- Kamel, Nabil S; Julie Gammack; Oscar Cepeda; Joseph H Flaherty (2006). "Antioxidants and hormones as antiaging therapies: high hopes, disappointing results". Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine 73 (12): 1049–1056, 1058. doi:10.3949/ccjm.73.12.1049. ISSN 0891-1150. PMID 17190308.
- Arking R, Butler R, Chiko B, Fossel M, Gavrilov LA, Morley JE, Olshansky SJ, Perls T, Walker RF. Anti-aging teleconference: What is anti-aging medicine? Journal of Anti-Aging Medicine [Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.]. 6(2): 91-106, 2003
- De Grey, Aubrey D. N., Leonid Gavrilov, S. Jay Olshansky, L. Stephen Coles, Richard G. Cutler, Michael Fossel, and S. Mitchell Harman. Antiaging technology and pseudoscience. Letter. Science, 2002, 296: 656-656.
- Gavrilov L.A. Scientific legitimacy of the term "Anti-Aging." Journal of Anti-Aging Medicine, 2002, 5(2): 239-240.