The fountain of youth is bigger business than Crabby Old Lady imagined. She Googled “anti-aging” the other day and got 8.28 million returns. After checking out a few of those websites, she thinks maybe some of their claims - to put it as politely as possible - might be a wee bit exaggerated.
“Oxyage Reverses Cellular Aging” touts one and in November 2003, Reader’s Digest magazine featured this product on the cover with a headline blaring, “A New Pill That Can End Aging.” 180 capsules of this stunning medical breakthrough will set you back just $44.70, or you can have a case of it delivered for only $279.
Nexiderm-SP is a “proprietary blend of ingredients” guaranteed to “decrease wrinkle depth and volume by 68 percent” and you can get a one-month supply for only $79.95. Crabby might set aside her natural skepticism if she could figure out what wrinkle volume is?
Has-been celebrities, George Hamilton and Kathy Rigby, are shilling for the “Miracle of Renuva” (“as seen on national television”) and now you can get a small bottle, if you hurry, for $99.90. Not a bad price for a miracle.
Compared to the American public, Ponce de Leon was a piker in his pursuit of everlasting youth. In 2004, U.S. consumers spent $44.6 billion on anti-aging products and services (that’s in addition to medical procedures), and the total anti-aging market, they say, will reach $72 billion a year by 2009.
Crabby doesn't want to shock you, nor does she mean to be rude. Nevertheless, it must be said: some of these longevity gurus are lying. One example: thousands of them are selling what they say is HGH – human growth hormone - in pills, lotions and sprays. Crabby found the real skinny on this stuff in The Merck Manual of Health & Aging:
HGH “is available only by prescription and must be injected…human growth hormone taken by mouth cannot be used by the body because it passes through the digestive tract without being absorbed by the body…
“…several studies have focused on whether human growth hormone replacement can reverse the aging process…Results of these studies have been disappointing, showing no improvements.” [emphasis added]
Now Crabby asks you - this instance of prevarication about one "clinically tested" nostrum couldn't mean the rest of the thousands of rejuvenation therapies are useless too, could it?
In addition to compounds of mysterious “proprietary ingredients” with their "youth enhancing formulas," there are anti-aging regimens that make even greater claims than the pill pushers. It is said that calorie restriction – CR in the jargon of its practitioners – can extend life spans up to a whopping 120 years.
The idea is to reduce calorie intake by one-third or more of the normally recommended amount. As Crabby understands it, CR is a kind of extreme vegetarian diet: no meat, fish, poultry, dairy, fat or carbohydrates – ever. And in addition, handfuls of vitamins and minerals must be included each day to maintain healthy nutrition when so many foods are eliminated. Of course, Crabby could be wrong about this; these guys always have a book to sell – 17 CR books at Amazon - before the exact details are revealed.
The anti-aging flim-flammers are, as Liberace said, laughing all the way to the bank and there are two things that make their scams possible: society’s abhorrence of old people and P.T. Barnum’s* dictum that there’s a sucker born every minute.
But not Crabby Old Lady. Getting old is just fine with her and she doesn’t need any phony-baloney magic potion to get her from here to death which, it is unlikely to surprise these quacks, will arrive for them too just about on schedule, give or take, with the Bible’s four score and ten.
*It wasn’t really P.T. Barnum who said that. See historybuff.com.