Pitching tailored regiments of diet, exercise and hormones to make Baby Boomers feel youngerand live longer is a booming business.
Anti-aging doctors seek to turn back the clock by prescribing megadoses of supplements that they believe prevent the body's organs from deteriorating and dying. In addition to hotly disputed biologic drugs such as human growth hormone (HGH), there's an alphabet soup of supplements that includes DHEA, antioxidant vitamins C and E, glucosamine, Omega-3 and more.
Women have been consumers of hormone replacement therapies for decades. Now men are also being primed to view middle age in terms of male menopause. That's one reason more patients than ever are starting to gobble up the anti-aging promise. The industry pulls in $56 billion a year now and that number could swell to $79 billion by 2009.
The anti-aging arsenal could increase substantially in coming years as a whole complement of experimental biotech drugs comes on stream. Many critics are crying for the FDA to crack down on the anti-aging industry, especially on the renegades who illegally hawk their wares all over the Internet. HGH is by far the most controversial weapon in the anti-aging arsenal. The claims of the promoters range "from the extreme fringe to the downright illegal," says Dr. Thomas Perls, associate professor of medicine and geriatrics at Boston University, who has been such an outspoken opponent of the anti-aging industry that he has been sued along with another professor in 2004 for defamation.
Others are not anti-aging boomers.
Here is what one woman wrote in a response to aging, "My grandmother who lived to 97 used to say she still felt the same way she did when she was 18, on the inside, and so still got surprised sometimes when she looked in the mirror."
"I have noticed her truth. I have also had folks who once they found out my number change their attitude toward me. Not based on my looks (I look younger) or my actions or personality...purely, the number."
"Also, it seems a lot of folks let the number rule their lives as in 'I am too old to do that' etc. BTW, I am long over 30...and I have yet to find anything I am 'too old' to do. I consider maturity to be the time when you can take care of your responsibilities, AND still do the things that are fun for you...from most any other time of your prior years."
Sources: BusinessWeek, March 20, 2006 and Craig's List, March 24, 2006