'Silver Fleece' Awards Warn Consumers of Anti-Aging Misinformation

Article ID: 503478

Released: 26-Feb-2004 6:20 PM EST

Source Newsroom: University of Illinois at Chicago

Newswise — The third annual "Silver Fleece" Awards, which expose the most outrageous or exaggerated claims about slowing or reversing human aging, will be announced March 6.

Aging expert and author S. Jay Olshansky will announce the winners as part of a presentation at the International Conference on Longevity session "Anti-Aging Medicine: The Hype and Reality" in Sydney, Australia at the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Olshansky, professor of epidemiology at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health, will present two awards, one for a product and one to an organization.

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

The awardees were selected by three leading scientists in the field of aging: Olshansky; Leonard Hayflick of the University of California, San Francisco; and Bruce Carnes of the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. 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). The three will be presenting scientific papers at the plenary session of the conference.

And the winners are:

The Silver Fleece Award for an Anti-Aging Product goes to a suite of anti-aging substances created by Ronald Klatz and Robert Goldman, co-founders of the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine (A4M) based in Chicago, and sold on the Internet by Market America, Inc.

A short-term supply of the entire suite of anti-aging nutraceuticals, Prime Blends(TM), and cosmeceuticals, Timeless Prescription(TM), costs more than $560 when purchased through Market America.

According to Market America's website, "Prime Blends(TM) is a family of newly developed anti-aging nutraceuticals that work to help maintain healthy levels of hormonal activity and metabolism as we age. All three products, Ultra Prime(TM) Secretagogue, Prime Factor(TM) and Prime Dreamz(TM) Sleep Assist, represent the most advanced, natural anti-aging products in the world."

Product details include other bold statements such as "Release HGH and help free yourself from the aging process with Prime(TM) Ultra!" and "Turn back the clock and release the youth within through Ultra Prime, one of the Prime Blends family of scientifically advanced nutraceuticals!"

This award is given annually to "the product with the most ridiculous, outrageous, scientifically unsupported or exaggerated assertions about intervening in aging or age-related diseases," says Olshansky.

"Market America uses clever hype and pseudo-scientific mumbo-jumbo to convince consumers that 'nutraceuticals' and 'cosmeceuticals' can alter the aging process," says Olshansky. "Klatz has stated in recent television interviews that he does not personally endorse any anti-aging products."

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.

"There are no known dietary supplements that have been proven to alter the aging process or increase the body's production of growth hormone," Olshansky said.

"About the only thing these anti-aging products do is fatten the wallets of those selling them."

The Silver Fleece Award for an Anti-Aging Organization goes to the International Journal of Anti-Aging Medicine.

This award "honors" the organization that contributes the most to disseminating misinformation or products associated with the claim that human aging can now be stopped or reversed.

The International Journal of Anti-Aging Medicine is a publication of the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine (A4M), the recipient of the first Silver Fleece Award for an organization in 2001.

"This alleged 'journal' is particularly misleading because it gives the false impression that it is a genuine scientific journal and that what is published in it is peer-reviewed," says Carnes. "It is little more than an advertising vehicle for every conceivable anti-aging product."

"The International Journal of Anti-Aging Medicine is not a recognized scientific journal," says Hayflick, the former editor of the respected scientific journal Experimental Gerontology and a top authority on the biology of aging.

"What I find reprehensible about this 'journal' is that advertisers who publish in it can then claim there is scientific evidence to support their outrageous assertions by pointing to the publication in an alleged scientific journal."

Says Carnes: "It's unfortunate that so much anti-aging quackery is surfacing just when scientists are making substantive progress on understanding the processes of aging. I believe that the research being done today will eventually give rise to interventions with the capacity to modify the biological rate of aging in humans."

As authors of hundreds of scientific articles on aging, Olshansky, Hayflick and Carnes 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.

Olshansky, Hayflick and Thomas T. Perls are co-editing special issues of the Journal of Gerontology: Biological Sciences on the topic of "Anti-Aging Medicine: The Hype and Reality," which will be released this summer. The special issues will feature the latest developments in the scientific efforts to understand and eventually modify the biological rate of aging in humans, as well as the hype behind the current anti-aging movement.

In 2002, a paper authored by Olshansky, Hayflick, and Carnes and endorsed by 51 leading scientists in the field of aging presented a position statement warning the public that "no currently marketed intervention has yet been proved to slow, stop or reverse human aging." The three also warned consumers in their article entitled "No Truth to the Fountain of Youth," which appeared in Scientific American.

"The entrepreneurs, physicians and other health care practitioners who make these claims are taking advantage of consumers who cannot easily distinguish between the hype and reality of interventions designed to influence the aging process and age-related diseases," said Olshansky.

The first annual Silver Fleece Awards were given to Clustered Water(TM) and the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine in Chicago.

The second annual Silver Fleece Awards were given to Longevity by Urban Nutrition and CLONAID(TM).

For more information about UIC, visit http://www.uic.edu


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