Sci. Aging Knowl. Environ., 20 February 2002
Vol. 2002, Issue 7, p. nw21
[DOI: 10.1126/sageke.2002.7.nw21]


And the Loser Is ...: Silver Fleece Awards "honor" antiaging quackery (Questionable therapies)

R. John Davenport;2002/7/nw21

Abstract: Scientists have presented the first annual Silver Fleece Awards to the most egregious examples of spurious antiaging medicine.

The winners: Clustered Water, a company based in Olympia, Washington, that sells a "nontoxic water solution" to reverse aging; and the Chicago-based American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine (A4M), a 10,000-member medical society that promotes purported age-retarding therapies. The awards highlight "the most ridiculous claims about antiaging medicine," says biodemographer S. Jay Olshansky of the University of Illinois, Chicago. "There's no scientific evidence to back up any of the claims that ingesting any product or injecting any hormone or eating any antioxidant is going to have any effect whatsoever on human aging." Olshansky presented the awards on 12 February in Miami, Florida, at a meeting of science and health journalists sponsored by the International Longevity Center in New York City. The winners were not present to receive their prizes: bottles of vegetable oil labeled "Snake Oil."

The judging panel--Olshansky, cytogerontologist Leonard Hayflick of the University of California, San Francisco, and biodemographer Bruce Carnes of the University of Chicago--found Clustered Water to be the most deserving of the antiaging product award. It not only outshone a far-ranging field of competitors at exaggerating legitimate science, but it excelled at profit potential ($39.95 for 120 ml of water that is supposedly organized into resonating structures that rejuvenate tissues). "Clustered Water perpetuates the 3000-year-old fountain-of-youth myth," says Olshansky. The company suggests "that the loss of some sort of vital substance contributes to the aging process, and we need only replace it. This kind of thing has been sold to the public forever; people should just be aware that these magical potions or waters don't work." Clustered Water could not be reached for comment.

For most notorious organization, the panel gave the nod to A4M. "There are plenty of organizations selling antiaging," says Olshansky, "but this is by far the worst I have seen. It has created an alleged medical subspecialty and accreditation in antiaging medicine, even though there are no proven antiaging medicines in existence." Although the approaches espoused by the group are based on preventive medicine, he says, they stray from established science.

A4M president Ronald Klatz likens the award to a "meaningless circuslike sideshow" and counters that he and Olshansky have a different definition of antiaging medicine. "Antiaging medicine is anything that has to do with the early detection, prevention, treatment, and/or reversal of aging-related disorders or disease," says Klatz, including exercise or taking drugs that reduce the risk of heart disease. "It doesn't say that we have a magic bullet to reverse aging." Klatz adds that A4M "is solely a nonprofit scientific educational medical society which neither sells nor endorses any product." The A4M Web site, however, lists numerous dietary supplement suppliers and pharmaceutical companies as sponsors and includes a directory of antiaging products.

Olshansky plans to give the award annually: "There's no shortage of potential recipients."

--R. John Davenport

Further Reading

C. Holden, The quest to reverse time's toll. Science 295, 1032-1033 (2002). [Abstract] [Full Text]

Citation: R. J. Davenport, And the Loser Is ...: Silver Fleece Awards "honor" antiaging quackery (Questionable therapies). Science's SAGE KE (20 February 2002),;2002/7/nw21

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