Email & Password
Not a member? Register.
There have been a lot of talks recently about anti-ageing. We must first look at what exactly is ageing and how can we control it.
I suppose as a Molecular Biologist and Doctor I must say that ageing is really an accumulation of damage to molecules, cells, tissue and eventually organs. The maximum life span known for humans is 122 years, whereas the maximum lifespan of a mouse is about 3 years. There are many reasons this happens, genetic differences between humans and mice, fertility rate, the efficiency of DNA repair and the old "buzzword" different rates of free radical production, etc.
Antioxidants, including Vitamins A, B-6, B-12, C and E are believed to counteract free radicals and in some way prevent chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. There are many studies that point toward the benefits of beta-carotene, folic acid and selenium. These antioxidants are found in a variety of fruits and vegetables. I suppose as a scientist, I am cynical about the advantage of these adjuncts in pill form.
Regarding hormone use, I am going to stand out on a limb and look at the evidence supporting their use. When people talk about hormones, they usually mean taking DHEA, Testosterone, Oestrogen and probably Human Growth Hormone. Hormones are chemicals needed to help keep your vital organs working properly, which decline naturally as we age. It is easy to see why people would believe restoring their level to lead to previous levels. Unfortunately, life is never that simple. We all know that HRT can restore a woman's skin, vaginal secretions, energy etc. but it has its risks in older age groups also. Look at the precursor hormone DHEA, which is converted in the body to oestrogen and testosterone.
In essence, doctors feel uncomfortable about prescribing this hormone because of the lack of scientific evidence to balance whether the declining levels are unhealthy, especially as there is suspicion of possible risks, including prostate problems.
We do know that about 20% of men age 60 and older have testosterone levels below the normal range (testosterone deficiency).
The question is shouldn't these men be treated? In a sentence, I would agree. If a patient feels decreased energy, reduced strength or cognitive ability, and less sexual interest or potency, I would certainly check his testosterone levels as well as his thyroid levels, mood and medication.
Many patients also ask me whether hormones will restore the vitality of youth. I really hate to sound like a killjoy, especially as I am continually asked to speak at anti ageing conferences and I realise that this part of medicine is in its infancy.
I am also aware that the new science of nutrigenomics will become more important. In essence, I would really love to see a hormonal answer to stop the process of ageing but none of these supplements has sufficient medical evidence to back up the claims made by anti-ageing enthusiasts in view of the risks they carry.
Before you go.....
Let's stay in touch, pop your details here and we'll send our editor's hand-picked updates on your fave subjects.