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Anti-Aging on AMA Agenda

Posted by bmagnus On June - 12 - 2009

The nation’s largest group of doctors, the American Medical Association, is meeting in Chicago this week. It’s a meeting so important that the President of the United States is showing up. And this year, anti-aging is on the agenda.

Specifically, the “Hundreds of doctors” will discuss “the dangers of anti-aging remedies….” A little bit of digging reveals that they don’t intend to take on lasers, skin creams, or any of a host of useless to dangerous things that are marketed as “anti-aging” products. Rather, they have a policy statement that states no research supports the use of certain hormonal treatments as “anti-aging.” This includes hGH, DHEA, and bio-identical hormone replacement for women. Testosterone supplementation in some men with chronic low levels is still supported.

In an era when the AMA has dwindling membership and revenues, they are trying to make themselves relevant again by driving a wedge between themselves and the 22,000 member strong and growing A4M — the American Academy of Anti Aging Medicine.

While hormonal therapy may not be harmless, it’s difficult to get funding for proper studies. The reason is that hormones and most compounds for replacement are naturally occurring; they can’t be patented, so it’s difficult to make money marketing them. The only way a major pharmaceutical company would support such research was specifically to prove they don’t work or at least don’t work as well as the patented synthetic, name-branded alternative. This has lead to lots of orphaned drugs that while promising have little or no formal research supporting their use.

Her take: This is such a scant article to be getting wide coverage I’ve seen. I find its brevity misleading. As if that isn’t enough, the page on which I originally read it happened to have a big banner ad for the Chicago stage production of Peter Pan. Exactly who is it that won’t grow up?

His take: In a time when healthcare reform is the overriding national policy item, the AMA has decided that taking on a large chunk of their membership that is in both the AMA and A4M seems foolish. Further, they aren’t advocating study but instead ongoing ignorance driven by tiny divisive studies. We haven’t yet seen the big studies that are really needed to determine efficacy of many of the anti-aging approaches that have looked most promising. Testosterone replacement has been a mainstay of managing aging men for decades, so we get to keep it. What about the others? Why condemn them now?

2 Responses to “Anti-Aging on AMA Agenda”

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