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The war against anti-aging medicine


Campaign against unproven products might have unintended consequences

Why are research scientists speaking out against anti-aging medicine, and what are the potential consequences?

The campaign against anti-aging medicine has recently been launched by an international group of some 50 biogerontologists – biologists who conduct research on the basic processes of aging. Proclaiming that there is "no truth to the Fountain of Youth" in Scientific American and other publications, they seek to discredit what they judge to be fraudulent and harmful products and therapies. At the same time, they are attempting to distinguish their own research from the activities of practitioners and entrepreneurs that purvey hormone injections (e.g., HGH), special mineral waters, and other anti-aging services and products.

In the February 2003 issue of The Gerontologist, Robert H. Binstock, Professor of Aging, Health, and Society at Case Western Reserve University, interprets why this war against anti-aging medicine is taking place and assesses its consequences. He argues that the biogerontologists -- many of whom are themselves trying to develop interventions that will actually slow or arrest the processes of aging – fear that the contemporary prominence of pseudoscientific anti-aging medicine could threaten the status and funding of their own research. Through their attack on anti-aging medicine, however, they may be shooting themselves in the foot.

Binstock’s analysis is that the biogerontologists may be inadvertently undermining their own legitimacy and research support by blurring public understanding of the difference between the anti-aging services and products that they are denigrating, and their own aspirations to achieve effective anti-aging interventions.

Instead of this war on anti-aging medicine, he suggests, the biogerontologists might be wiser to invest their efforts in pointing out to the public and decision makers the potential health benefits to be realized from their own research in the decades ahead, such as active longevity free from disability and functional dependence.


The Gerontologist is a refereed publication of The Gerontological Society of America, the national organization of professionals in the field of aging.

Melanie Radkiewicz | EurekAlert!
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