Does it bother you when you see products advertised to help prolong your life when there is no evidence that any such product exists? Some advertisements claim that the research of Drs. Leonard Hayflick, S. Jay Olshansky, and Bruce A. Carnes show that certain products prolong life. These three researchers are disgusted by being misquoted by people who use their names to sell products with claims that are not supported by their research. They were so offended that they wrote an article for Scientific American and had 51 other of the most highly-respected researchers in the field of antiaging medicine endorse their position THAT THERE ARE NO HERBAL OR ANY OTHER PRODUCTS THAT PROLONG LIFE.
The authors write: "Since recorded history, individuals have been, and are continuing to be, victimized by promises of extended youth or increased longevity by using unproven methods that allegedly slow, stop or reverse aging. There are no lifestyle changes, surgical procedures, vitamins, antioxidants, hormones or techniques of genetic engineering available today that have been demonstrated to influence the processes of aging. We strongly urge the general public to avoid buying or using products or other interventions from anyone claiming that they will slow, stop or reverse aging. What medical science can tell us is that because aging and death are not programmed into our genes, health and fitness can be enhanced at any age, primarily through the avoidance of behaviors (such as smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, excessive exposure to sun, and obesity) that accelerate the expression of age-related diseases and by the adoption of behaviors (such as exercise and a healthy diet) that take advantage of a physiology that is inherently modifiable.
The more dramatic claims made by those who advocate antiaging medicine in the form of specific drugs, vitamin cocktails or esoteric hormone mixtures are, however, not supported by scientific evidence, and it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that these claims are intentionally false, misleading or exaggerated for commercial reasons. The misleading marketing and the public acceptance of antiaging medicine is not only a waste of health dollars; it has also made it far more difficult to inform the public about legitimate scientific research on aging and disease. Medical interventions for age-related diseases do result in an increase in life expectancy, but none have been proved to modify the underlying processes of aging. The use of cosmetics, cosmetic surgery, hair dyes and similar means for covering up manifestations of aging may be effective in masking age changes, but they do not slow, stop or reverse aging. At present there is no such thing as an antiaging intervention.
For newborns in the U.S. today, life expectancy is about 77 years. Chiefly because newborn babies and mothers in childbirth rarely die today, life expectancy has increased during the 20th century by 30 years. Because the young can be saved only once and because these risks are now so close to zero, further improvements, even if they occurred, would have little effect on life expectancy.
Nobody has ever shown that taking antioxidant vitamin pills helps prolong life. At present there is relatively little evidence from human studies that supplements containing antioxidants lead to a reduction in either the risk of these conditions or the rate of aging. Antioxidant supplements may have some health benefits for some people, but so far there is no scientific evidence to justify the claim that they have any effect on human aging."
Scientific American, June 2002
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