Feb. 12, 2002Contact: Sherri McGinnis (312) 996-8277; [email protected]

Embargoed until 12:45 pm (ET), Feb. 12

In a lighthearted attempt to make the public aware of the anti-aging quackery that has become so widespread here and abroad, the first annual Silver Fleece Awards will be announced Feb. 12.

S. Jay Olshansky, professor of epidemiology at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health, will announce the awards at 12:45 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency Miami, 400 SE Second Ave.

The awards are part of a presentation by Olshansky at a two-day seminar about aging and longevity for journalists sponsored by the International Longevity Center-USA.

Olshansky, a noted scientist and demographer of aging, will present awards for the product and organization that he says, "make the most outrageous or exaggerated claims about human aging."

The award - a bottle of vegetable oil labeled "Snake Oil" - will be presented (in absentia) to each award winner.

The Silver Fleece Award for Anti-Aging Quackery will go to Clustered Water(TM), www.clusteredwateronline.com/frame.htm of Olympia, Wash. This award is given to "the product (and its producer) with the most ridiculous, outrageous, scientifically unsupported or exaggerated assertions about aging or age-related diseases," said Olshansky.

According to information presented on their Web site, the producers of Clustered Water(TM) claim that it "truly assists our body's natural processes in counteracting the cellular malfunctions that many health practitioners and researchers believe are responsible for degenerative health."

Olshansky says, "Clustered Water(TM) is the latest in a long line of miracle anti-aging waters that have been sold to the public for thousands of years."

A four-ounce bottle of concentrated Clustered Water(TM) currently sells for $39.95, and, as suggested by the manufacturer, yields four gallons of Clustered Water(TM) when mixed with regular water.

The criteria for this award included an evaluation of the purported health and longevity benefits, claims about scientific evidence supporting the product, the degree to which legitimate scientific research is exaggerated and the profit potential for those selling it.

The recipient of the Silver Fleece Award for an Anti-Aging Organization will go to the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine in Chicago, www.worldhealth.net/index.shtml. This award "honors" the organization that contributes the most to disseminating misinformation and/or products associated with the claim that human aging can now be stopped or reversed.

The organization describes itself as a nonprofit medical society of 10,000 physicians, health practitioners and scientists from 65 countries worldwide who pursue life-enhancing and life-extending medical care. The American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine describes itself as "dedicated to the belief that the process of physical aging in humans can be slowed, stopped, or even reversed through existing medical and scientific interventions."

"More than any other organization in the world, the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine is responsible for leading the lay public and some in the medical and scientific community to the mistaken belief that technologies already exist that stop or reverse human aging," Olshansky says. "It has created an alleged medical subspecialty and accreditation in anti-aging medicine, even though there are no proven anti-aging medicines in existence."

The awardees were selected by a committee of three scientists in the field of aging: Olshansky; Leonard Hayflick, University of California at San Francisco; and Bruce Carnes, National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago. Olshansky and Carnes are authors of "The Quest for Immortality: Science at the Frontiers of Aging" (Norton, 2001). Hayflick is author of "How and Why We Age" (Ballantine, 1996).

As authors of hundreds of scientific articles on aging, Olshansky and his colleagues are thoroughly familiar with both the legitimate, ongoing research in the fields of aging and the anti-aging claims that have been made historically and in recent years.

"Although there is reason to be optimistic that scientists will eventually be able to intervene in one or more processes associated with human aging, it is not currently possible to stop or reverse aging," says Olshansky. "In spite of this fact, a large number of anti-aging products are now being sold by entrepreneurs and administered by physicians and other health care practitioners in the United States and abroad under the pretext that they will stop or reverse aging and/or combat major fatal diseases."

Olshansky and Carnes say in their book, "The life extension industry begins with a grain of truth but quickly gets mixed with a tablespoon of bad science, a cup of greed, a pint of exaggeration and a gallon of human desire for a longer, healthier life -- a recipe for false hope, broken promises and unfulfilled dreams."

For more information about UIC, visit www.uic.edu

For more information about the International Longevity Center-USA and its recent scientific report "Is There an Anti-Aging Medicine?," visit www.ilcusa.org


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