Antiaging hormone therapies unproven, carry risks

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

In Self magazine, Harriet Brott reports on the rise of Suzanne Somers-esque hormone therapies to combat the signs of aging. Proponents treat the usual aging process as a “glandular disorder caused in part by dwindling hormones.”

Brott covers a number of trendy hormone treatments, but pays special attention to one of the most controversial such treatments: human growth hormone. Strict laws assert that hGH can’t be used for anti-aging treatment and can only be prescribed for specific groups of patients, including those with an exceedingly rare hormone deficiency. Some physicians have circumvented these rules by declaring that, as hGH naturally declines as humans get older, anyone over the age of 30 has an hGH deficiency. Experts say the supposed benefits of such therapies have not yet materialized, while the risks have made themselves all too clear.

Somehow we got the notion that aging and menopause are unnatural,” says Barbara A. Brenner, executive director of Breast Cancer Action in San Francisco. “This is an uncontrolled experiment being done on women, and anybody who thinks you can alter your body chemistry and only get positive effects doesn’t understand how chemistry works.”

Brott also traces the hGH anti-aging myth back to the sentence that started it all, investigates the booming hormone-spa industry and looks into the future (and distant, goat-related past) of anti-aging fads.

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