Do anti-aging treatments really work? Perhaps not, a new study suggests.
Call it anti-anti-aging therapy. It turns out that injections of growth hormone — a staple of anti-aging, hormone-replacement therapy — may have the opposite effect as intended, thwarting a person's quest to live to an advanced age.
In an ongoing study of very old people, those in their 90s with naturally low levels of human growth hormone appear to have a far better chance of living into their 100s compared with people who have above-average levels of the hormone.
In other words, juicing yourself up with growth hormones as an anti-aging strategy might backfire, undermining the body's natural defenses against the diseases of old age, according to researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York.
Their study appears in the April issue of the journal Aging Cell.
Fountain of youth?
The billion-dollar anti-aging hormone-therapy industry is based on a simple premise: Levels of various hormones decrease significantly as adults hit middle age; so replenishing youthful levels of those hormones should make graying adults look and feel younger. The primary hormones administered through anti-aging clinics are human growth hormone (HGH), which prompts the body to make another hormone called insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), a precursor of estrogen and testosterone.
This industry traces its roots to a 1990 New England Journal of Medicine study, in which 12 men over age 60 were given shots of growth hormone. The men experienced a modest increase in muscle mass and bone density, and a decline in body fat. To some entrepreneurs, that meant "anti-aging," and they have repackaged the study that way ever since. [Extending Life: 7 Ways to Live Past 100]
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