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The Misguided Lure of Anti-Ageing Products and Medicine

First off, it's that name - “anti-ageing” (or “anti-aging” if you prefer). Who hates themself so much that they would buy anything labeled “anti-ageing”?

The phrase is slapped on thousands of products but goes further than that. There is even The American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine (jauntily referring to themselves as A4M for short).

Yes, it is an organization that “certifies” physicians (and corporations) in the medical specialty of anti-aging.

One problem with that, however, is that there is no known medical specialty of anti-aging.

”...the field of anti-aging medicine is not recognized by established medical organizations, such as the American Board of Medical Specialties and the American Medical Association (AMA),” reports Wikipedia...

“The activities of the A4M are controversial: in 2003 a commentary on the response of the scientific community to the promotion of anti-aging medicine noted that the activities of the A4M were seen as a threat to the credibility of serious scientific research on aging...

“Thomas Perls of the Boston University School of Medicine, a prominent critic of the organization, has stated that claims of censorship and suppression are a common theme in what he calls 'anti-aging quackery.'”

No one can spend as much time online as I do reading about ageing in all its aspects without running into the most outrageous “anti-aging quackery” almost every day. One ad led to a Burt's Bees page with this promise:

“Smooth Fine Lines. Erase All Doubt. 96% of women saw a reduction in the appearance of wrinkles after 8 weeks”

Oh, come on. If a word of that were true, don't you think we would all know about it? At least if you fall for Burt's Bees humbug it will cost you only about $10. And even slightly more upscale L'Oreal sells an anti-aging cream for only about $25. But their video ad is no less bogus:

Did you notice that word L'Oreal highlighted? Hyaluronic makes it sound all rigorously scientific. What it is, is the latest hot ingredient with the anti-aging charlatans. The most expensive one Crabby has run across lately - $90 for a one-month supply – is promoted by Oprah's favorite physician, the notorious Dr. Oz.

Ads around the web claim that the cream he touts will turn a 55-year-old into a 35-year-old. As with the other latest anti-aging products, Oz explains, his magic ingredient is hyaluronic acid.

(If you are tempted to try Oz's product, please do check out this page with dozens of complaints and accusations of overcharging, cancellation refusals and misrepresentations by the company, Bella Labs, that sells the cream.)

Here is what WebMD says about hyaluronic acid which is naturally present in the human body (emphasis added):

”There is also a lot of interest in using hyaluronic acid to prevent the effects of aging. In fact, hyaluronic acid has been promoted as a 'fountain of youth.' However, there is no evidence to support the claim that taking it by mouth or applying it to the skin can prevent changes associated with aging.”

Got that? It and other evidence won't stop any of the false promises to reverse the appearance of ageing but all those cosmetic potions are mostly benign fibs compared to the pseudo-scientific products – prescription and over-the counter – that suggest those who use them will regain the energy and vitality of their youth, and even extend their lives by many years.

In the August 2015 issue of Consumer Reports, there is an update article titled “Treatments to Turn Back Time?” in which they report on what science says about the efficacy of such anti-aging products as human growth hormones (HTH), “low T” treatments, vitamin and mineral supplements, smart drugs and games, DHEA and coenzyme Q10 among others.

After explaining what these treatments can and cannot do, Consumer Reports chief medical advisor, Marvin M. Lipman M.D. says that

"...for now, any claim that a particular product or treatment can stop or slow down the aging process simply does not have the science to back it up.

“'There is as yet no evidence-based substance shown to extend life,' Lipman explains. 'Diet, exercise, and good genes are the best we can offer.'”

So save your money and wear your age proudly.


Definitions in Wikipedia article, may uphold the anti-aging claim---but not in the way it is advertised. Here are two quotes from that article:

“One of the chief components of the extracellular matrix, hyaluronan contributes significantly to cell proliferation and migration, and may also be involved in the progression of some malignant tumors.[3]

Hyaluronic acid is also a component of the group A streptococcal extracellular capsule,[5] and is believed to play a role in virulence.[6][7]"

And a definition of virulence: The ability of an agent of infection to produce disease.

So, one way to not age is to die.

SORRY, if this is too over the top, but I share the views on the subject.

"Analysis of serum hyaluronan is promising in the diagnosis of liver disease and various inflammatory conditions, e.g., rheumatoid arthritis. Interstitial edema caused by accumulation of hyaluronan may cause dysfunction in various organs."

The above is from an Abstract at pubmed.

So, when a lab analyses serum, does
it then sell any excess to cosmetic companies for their use?

How does a cosmetic company get possession of any human intercellular substance to include it in anything?

So many questions with so many lies as answers,

Thank you, Ronni, for your vigilance.

As a guy, anti-aging means something different than just getting rid of lines and wrinkles. To me it means halting or forestalling the factors that will eventually lead to my demise like heart problems, high blood pressure and stress. And the only way to do that is to eat properly, don't smoke, rest when you need to, exercise occasionally and add humor to your life every day. If you are still worried about those wrinkles I can give you my mom's formula for smooth skin. Stay out of the sun, don't smoke and wash with Dove soap.

Ah, a fool and his money are soon parted.

Yes, you are right. Wear your age proudly.
After all we earned it!


I don't understand how what you are saying has anything to do with men versus women. You have stated exactly what Ronni wrote referencing Consumer Reports at the end of her story. It's not a man/woman thing. And anyway, plenty of men worry about and try all kinds of things to reduce wrinkles. It's not just women.

I agree with Bruce. It's those worn out internal parts that matter, eat less, move more.

If you want to save your skin don't smoke, don't drink but especially keep your hide out of the sun and use a good sunscreen with UVA & UVB protection. Read the labels and note anything that causes you a reaction. Some sunscreens and lotions have given me a rash.

My biologist Dad who had painfully dry skin experimented with every kind of cream he could find and decided along with the cheaper lotions that Crisco and olive oil worked as well as anything, the key was daily use, And none of them restored anything.

I am so thankful that I am not worried or horrified about aging. Hello folks! We all get old and if you don't have enough confidence in what's inside and view others for their "real" worth, it's you that will find your life lacking. Our culture is so obsessed with aging and dying and the competition that it invites , that it can take away from the simple pleasures and meaningful relations with people and lessen our quality of life.

As for Dr. Oz supporting these products, I have heard him state unequivocally that he does not support any products that may be advertised as such. Both he & Barbara Walters were quoted in several adverts & both went to the airwaves & disputed those claims. So once again it's the advertisers that are responsible for most of this nonsense. In the end, we all die whether we look old or not............there's no avoiding it. As I've said so often, it's a crapshoot, no matter what you put on your face. :)Dee

The high volume of sales for anti-aging products speaks more for our shallow values when we place more worth on physical beauty than on being a kind person,

I have no documentation to back up a theory of mine, but it has been my observation that the bulk of people buying those products promising eternal youth are the middle aged women when they spot the first grey hair or the laugh lines at the corner of their eyes. Vain men worry about aging when they lose their vigor or the love handles appear.

What a waste of time and money fighting the inevitable.

I"ll worry about aging when I stop thinking, not when I stop getting wrinkles.

Unfortunately, a tan was considered a good thing in my youth, especially in California where I lived then. I definitely didn't stay out of the sun and am probably paying the price in skin quality now, I still like a little color during the summer months, even though I've lived in the Pacific NW since 1969, but today's tan comes from a bottle or tube. I use inexpensive moisturizers--none of the pricey stuff since I'm well aware that they won't "reverse" anything. I'm still not sold on being old, but I agree with Jean G. about thinking.

We aging women and men cannot avoid wrinkles, and age spots, and whatever else we have gained by our many years on this planet, like sagging jowls, and thinning hair or baldness. At 75 I consider myself one of the lucky ones to still be alive when several of my high school friends have died.

The best news is stated at the end of this blog - we can all eat healthy foods, and we can all exercise, as much as we are able to move around, and those two things go a long way plus being kind and helping others by volunteering, and laughing a lot, will extend and add meaning to our lives.

We are such gullible creatures. I just finished reading a book titled Superstition, by Robert L. Park, a physicist who also wrote Voodoo Science: The Road from Foolishness to Fraud... In Superstition, he goes chapter by chapter discussing things -- products, beliefs, practices, that people believe in, and spend lots of money, time and energy on, but which don't stand up very well to scientific testing. IMaybe he should consider doing a book on things connected with aging, .

Hrm? Ronni...? Did my comment about vitamin/mineral supplements, particularly vitamin D, not meet your standards?

The trouble is that it's starting to appear that the old conventional medical wisdom, which is still true enough for younger people, is not only wrong but dangerous for many elders, Some doctors do know better, but all too many don't.

Each individual is different. Me, I've taken care to inform myself about this because: I do restrict my calorie intake, I don't spend a lot of time outdoors without sunscreen, and I'm now in my 70s which means my body can't absorb vitamins and trace minerals as efficiently. This means that even though I eat lots of fruits and vegetables, I still need to supplement my intake of some trace nutrients.

I am lucky not to be so financially strapped that I can't afford it. I don't care about wrinkles -- I'm rather proud of mine, in fact. They show that I've lived! I do care about keeping my bones solid so they don't break if I happen to fall and my teeth healthy enough so I can chew my food properly. I care deeply about doing everything reasonably possible to keep my brain functioning as well as it can!

I'm not going to wait for more studies to be done. I can't, I don't have enough time left. The baby boomers will force a shift in research priorities, and I am sure that over the next 10-15 years, many more studies will be funded looking at how nutritional needs change once you've completed your biblical three-score years and ten. But I'm ahead of the baby boom. Those studies will come in too late to help me. I have just one case to make decisions about -- me! All I can do is look at the best evidence available now.

Since Sylvia's comment above is responding to a private email that no one at the site can see, I will explain.

I emailed to tell her privately that I had deleted her previous comment because she had suggested and promoted the taking vitamins and supplements as if she were an expert. She made statements of what she considers fact without sourcing them. As far I know Sylvia is not an expert on supplements and vitamins some of which can be dangerous in and of themselves and/or have reactions with other drugs.

No one whose credentials I have not personally vetted is allowed to promote any kind of medical treatment on this blog. Ever. You can speak of what you do, of what your physician has told you but you may never do this in a manner that suggests anyone else should do so.

Sylvia crossed this line in her earlier comment and it was removed. Yes, Sylvia, you did not meet my standards in your previous comment and you can leave off the snark about it next time.

60 Minutes had a show a few years back about testing done on over 90 year olds and what their "secret" was to long life besides genetic predisposition. As I recall, it was a glass of wine a day, some moderate exercise, socialization (one of the most important), slightly high blood pressure after 90, a gain of 5 lbs. a decade after 65 and some religious belief or spirituality. Not necessarily all of these, but this was the common thread. And no effect from various vitamins and supplements that were taken. There may have been other strong held beliefs that also proved to be of no consequence.

Exactly, Florence.

There isn't any "defense against aging." You might be able to alter the appearance of aging, but you'll still be getting older every second, just like everyone else. I can live with that because it sure as heck beats the alternative.

I am so sorry, Ronni - my mistake. Google "oh-so-very kindly" sorted that email from you into my "promotions" folder, so I did not see it until now. I certainly didn't mean to snark! I admire what you do here, and I do understand now why my comment was deleted. Thank you for making your policy clear to me - I will not infringe it again.

It's true, I am not an expert on the subject of supplements. I have researched them only to figure out what I personally should do. What is right for me isn't necessarily right for someone else. I should not have implied otherwise.

IF it seems to good to true...it usually is.

Brings to mind that wonderful Norman Lear video on the occasion of his 93rd birthday that you gave us in Saturday's Interesting Stuff, I just watched it again.

"If I keep getting up then I'm going to get older."


"To the folks afraid of getting old, isn't that kind of the goal?"

It's a waste of time and money to fight against sign of age on your skin.
Some of us suffer of dry skin and for me work a few rules:
Clean your face twice daily, no matter if you use make up or not, with a very gentle Oil Cleanser. If you don't suffer of dry skin, you can skip any moisturizer at night.
In the morning use UVA/UVB sun protection on your face, all year round.
That's it.
All used products should NOT contain any Alc.denat. b/c of the drying and ageing effect on your skin!
Instead of soap use a syndet. The ph-value of soap is basic which irritates your skin barrier.
Syndets ph-value is in the light acid zone which is fine.
Conclusion: Mild Cleansing is the most important fact in Scincare.
Everything other is optional.

Speaking of aging issues, is there anything not widely known (i.e., don't have throw rugs or wires lying around) that can help prevent a fall? Practical suggestions?

Although this post is not about falls, Time Goes By posts a story with important information about preventing them at least once a year, usually twice a year. Here is one.of them. You can check such things for yourself by using the site search function in the right sidebar.

A funny - when one of us ladies in the family said that we thought some lotion or whatever was great, my father would say -"I wouldn't rub that on a cow's behind." And he was a doctor.

There's a terrible TV advert in NY these days for a local quack's "anti-ageing" junk. One "consumer" happily exclaims, "I'm young again! I don't feel like an old lady anymore!" I want to throw something. As far as I'm concerned, the best thing you can put on your face is a sincere smile.

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