I Prefer "Age-Management" to "Anti-Aging" Medicine

I do not like the term “Anti-Aging Medicine,” and I’ll tell you why. The term is too often associated with

* Unsubstantiated claims for longevity;

* Unsubstantiated claims for slowing down the aging process at the cellular level;

* Magic-bullet solutions for complex problems.

Today I received an e-mail that claims to be about an anti-aging product. I quote, “I am setting up distribution channels for a remarkable product. This is a fabulous opportunity to secure distribution of one of the hottest products to hit the Anti-Aging industry! Please E-mail me, and I will send additional information to recommend products to your physician and receive dollars.” It goes on to state that “...it is the only clear choice to delay and reverse the aging process. All the while consistently decreasing IGF levels.” The ad continues to make additional claims about a transdermal product that actually increases endogenous human growth hormone while consistently decreasing IGF levels.

This is a clear attempt to fool the public with a “magic bullet” product. It is a widely known and a well-established fact that if you increase growth hormone, you increase IGF. There is no evidence that if you increase growth hormone by any means whatsoever that IGF does anything but go up. Another article states: “Can we actually feel better and live a longer life? Scientific advances have allowed us to increase lifespan. ‘X’ product represents the pinnacle of these scientific achievements in not only extending life, but perhaps improving the quality of that extended life.” This is pseudo-science at its best, designed to mislead the public, and has no substantiation in the scientific literature whatsoever. The truth is, we cannot yet delay or reverse the aging process. There is absolutely no scientific evidence that this can be accomplished with the knowledge base that we have today. As long as such claims continue to be made in the name of the Anti-Aging industry, I’m inclined to shy away from the use of the term. Connotations associated with the term have created an atmosphere in which established medical organizations have very negative feelings about “Anti-Aging Medicine” and have biased the insurance industry against covering physicians practicing it. Unfortunately, there is a self-inflicted (and, I might add, well-deserved) “buyer beware” mentality associated with this term.

Some in the Anti-Aging field claim that aging is a disease and therefore can be “cured.” It is not a disease, but rather a process that we all experience. You could say that to be against aging, one would have to be against the natural order of life. The term “Anti-Aging,” therefore, is a misnomer. Qualified physicians are, on the contrary, pro-aging, i.e., proponents of attaining a higher quality of life for as long as possible. That is why I prefer the term “Age Management Medicine.” Age Management implies that a process can be managed to produce better outcomes. We manage our budget; we manage our calendars; we manage our practices and businesses, we manage our household — therefore, why not manage the process of aging? The real focus is to prevent premature disability and death and lead the highest possible quality of life for as long as we can. How about healthspan? At the present time, there is absolutely no knowledge that will allow us to extend our genetic potential for life, which is probably in the ballpark of 125 years.

My definition of Age Management Medicine is preventive medicine focused on regaining and maintaining optimal health and vigor. This medical specialty incorporates well-known and accepted markers of disease-risk into proactive patient management and uses hormone modulation for the endocrinologically “normal” by identifying hormone levels that yield superior health outcomes. For most hormones, this is simply the upper 33 percent of the normal range for a patient’s age. The exceptions are insulin and cortisol that should be modulated to the lower 33 percent of the normal range. Our focus is on optimal health. Regaining and maintaining metabolic and endocrine functions at the upper end of the normal range for your age gives you the best opportunity for a healthy and vigorous life.

Age Management Medicine recognizes that successful therapies necessitate healthy lifestyle, including optimal low glycemic index nutrition, appropriate nutrient supplementation, and the absolute need for physical exercise. We focus on the synergy of all of these elements in order to enhance vitality and extend our health span. While we may or may not be able to increase longevity, we are able to prevent premature disability and death and enhance quality of life.

What we are really striving for is to be disease resistant, mentally sharp, physically fit, and maintain high self-esteem, so that we can interact positively in our environment. It is truly not necessary to cure anything, but if we can delay the onset as long as possible and focus on quality of life issues, our goals will have been achieved. The correlate to that is that we continue to lead a high quality of life and remain healthy, as we make new strides to understand the potential for longevity through mechanisms such as stem cell therapy, teleromase research, gene replacement, and other modalities yet to be discovered. We will be able to take advantage of these opportunities so that we may increase our longevity potential in the future. Longevity, of course, without quality of life is not necessarily a desirable end point.

We have the knowledge, the technology, and the expertise to at least delay the onset of degenerative disease and the signs and symptoms associated with aging. The starting point is a comprehensive evaluation to understand each person’s metabolism, each person’s endocrine system, and of course overall physiology. Each of us has the power to improve the quality of our lives, but the answers do not lie in magic-bullet-product solutions, but rather by beginning with a comprehensive evaluation to understand all of our unique needs, deficiencies, and partial deficiencies, and then taking comprehensive corrective action to allow our bodies to function at the highest possible level.

I strongly believe that Age Management Medicine is the rational, evidence-based approach to an increased health span.

Alan Mintz, M.D., CEO, CMO, Cenegenics Medical Institute