No Truth to the Fountain of Youth; June 2002; Scientific American Magazine; by S. Jay Olshansky, Leonard Hayflick and Bruce A. Carnes; 4 Page(s)
Efforts to combat aging and extend human life date at least as far back as 3500 B.C., and self-proclaimed experts have touted anti-aging elixirs ever since. Indeed, the prospect of immortality has always had universal appeal, spurring Alexander the Great and Ponce de Leon to search for the legendary Fountain of Youth and feeding alchemists' desire to manufacture gold (once believed to be the most potent antiaging substance in existence). But the hawking of anti-aging "therapies" has taken a particularly troubling turn of late. Disturbingly large numbers of entrepreneurs are luring gullible and frequently desperate customers of all ages to "longevity" clinics, claiming a scientific basis for the anti-aging products they recommend and, often, sell. At the same time, the Internet has enabled those who seek lucre from supposed antiaging products to reach new consumers with ease.
Alarmed by these trends, scientists who study aging, including the three of us, have issued a position statement containing this warning: no currently marketed intervention-none-has yet been proved to slow, stop or reverse human aging, and some can be downright dangerous. While the public is bombarded by hype and lies, many biologists are intensively studying the underlying nature of aging in the belief that their research will eventually suggest ways to slow its progression and to thereby postpone infirmity and improve quality of life. But anyone purporting to offer an anti-aging product today is either mistaken or lying. The full position statement, drafted and endorsed by 51 internationally recognized investigators, can be found on the Scientific American Web site [see bottom of page 95]. Here we state the case as we see it, speaking for ourselves.