Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Booming anti-aging business relies on risky mix of steroids, growth hormone

By Amy Brittain & Mark Mueller/The Star-Ledger

Henry Balzani, 63, boasts he can leg-press 720 pounds. He’s got the photo on his cell phone to prove it.He says he has the energy and mental acuity of a man in his 20s. In just one year, he adds, he shed 30 pounds of fat and put on 10 pounds of muscle.

Balzani, a gynecologist, credits his physical turnaround to diet, exercise, vitamin supplementation and the restorative power of hormones. He takes testosterone, human growth hormone and TA-65, an unregulated substance that fights the aging process at the chromosomal level, its manufacturers claim.

Impressed with the results and with his own research, Balzani and a partner last fall opened Total Life Rejuvenation, a Clifton anti-aging clinic that specializes in hormone replacement therapy, a treatment that boosts the body’s naturally declining hormones to youthful levels.

“There’s a big movement for this,” Balzani said, citing testosterone advertisements, celebrity endorsements and the fictional Samantha Jones, the libidinous huntress who plugs hormones in this year’s “Sex and the City 2.” “It’s becoming mainstream.”
By all accounts, the anti-aging business is booming, a trend fed by an eager public’s timeless thirst for elixirs and pills to flatten bellies, increase vigor and improve sexual potency. And with every new patient and every new prescription, the medical establishment grows more alarmed. Critics say anti-aging practitioners, operating in a gray area of both medicine and the law, too often cross the line by peddling powerful and potentially dangerous substances on the basis of medically faulty diagnoses..... read more

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