Recall my recent post on this year's summer offensive on the anti-aging marketplace by mainstream gerontologists? I thought it would be interesting to take a look at how one of the more vocal - and comparatively responsible - groups in the marketplace is responding. The American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine (A4M) puts out pithy press releases when attacked:
Just GROW OLD and DIE: Pay No Attention to 20,000 Physicians and Scientists Who Say Otherwise, Suggest Gerontology Academicians
Count Maurice Maeterlink (1862-1949), Belgian writer, poet, essayist, and Nobel Laureate wrote that "At every crossroads on the path that leads to the future, tradition has placed 10,000 men to guard the past."
A4M has a good official position:
The A4M is a non-profit medical society dedicated to the advancement of technology to detect, prevent, and treat aging related disease and to promote research into methods to retard and optimize the human aging process. A4M believes that the disabilities associated with normal aging are caused by physiological dysfunction which in many cases are ameliorable to medical treatment, such that the human lifespan can be increased, and the quality of one's life improved as one grows chronologically older.
This comes back to one of the points I make at the Longevity Meme, which is that this battle between gerontology and the marketplace has a lot to do with confusion over terms, legitimacy and rebranding. The A4M definition of "anti-aging medicine" means something quite different from the gerontology definition - treating age-related conditions is not the same as intervening in the aging process. There is nothing (aside, maybe, from calorie restriction) that can intervene in the aging process, but there are plenty of ways to treat age-related conditions.
I would be the first to admit that I have my issues with A4M - such as their focus on old school technologies, and the fact that they allow the modern equivelant of pill and potion merchants to exhibit at their conferences. Although these folks do pay the bills so that reputable scientists can speak in the scientific portions of these events, I think A4M could certainly be putting much more effort into ensuring that the worst, borderline fraudulent and outright fraudulent offenders in the anti-aging marketplace are not allowed in.
A4M, in my opinion, is currently hurting the advance of serious anti-aging research as much as it is helping it. (I'll happily say the same and worse about mainstream gerontology organizations - they are as much a roadblock as they are responsible enablers of research). Fortunately, A4M shows signs of shaping up and becoming a much more positive influence overall; we shall see how that goes.