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Turning back the clock -

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As the first wave of baby boomers enter official retirement age, the demand for anti-ageing
medicines continues to grow. Yet despite promising everything from an improved sex life to eternal
wellness, there is little evidence these treatments actually work.

Transcript

TRACY BOWDEN, PRESENTER: With the first wave of baby boomers already into official retirement age
there's been a steady growth in demand for so called anti-ageing medicines that promise to turn
back the clock - or at least hit the pause button - on some of the indignities of ageing.

Next month Melbourne will host the country's fourth conference on anti-ageing medicine showcasing a
whole welter of therapies now being pitched to the so called 'worried well', from vitamin
supplements to growth hormone treatments

Despite some of the more extravagant promises - like a revived sex life or eternal wellness - so
far there's little hard evidence any of these therapies actually work.

But it's perhaps not surprising that the generation which rewrote the rules in the 60s and 70s is
now hoping to cheat old age.

Deborah Cornwall reports

KATE MARIE: I woke up at 40, I saw the door of youth go slam. I lost my libido, I will libido was
key, I looked like s**t. I wasn't sort of energetic like I used to be so I thought I need to do
something about it.

DEBORAH CORNWALL: 47 year old Kate Marie was an early starter in her quest for a kinder, sexier old
age.

KATE MARIE: Sex has been a driver for me, like a lot of people, maybe they don't talk about it. I'm
young, not a cougar that's going racing around trying to find a younger man for the sake of it. But
I have ended up with relationships that were much younger and it's been beautiful, absolutely
beautiful.

DEBORAH CORNWALL: A former nurse turned marketing consultant, Kate Marie swears by her daily
cocktail of vitamins and hormones.

Backed up by a punishing regime of exercise and diet and the occasional cosmetic procedure.

{start anti-aging ad}

AD VOICE OVER: Is ageing slowing you down? Are you losing energy.

FEMALE IN AD: I feel like I'm 25.

AD VOICE OVER: Peptide E Collagen synergistically blended together...

MALE IN AD: It's just incredible.

AD VOICE OVER: Boosting your sex drive and potency.

{end anti-aging ad}

DEBORAH CORNWALL: While anti-ageing medicine is still in its infancy in Australia, it's already big
business in the United States.

Doctors, new age Shamans and entrepreneurs have all got into the act with a bamboozling selection
of supplements and hormone treatments all specially formulated to get your mojo back.

{Start Dr Life Ad}

DR LIFE: You may have seen my pictures in national publications and wondered if they're real.

FEMALE INTERVIEWER: So what is your secret? How are you doing this at nearly 70 years old how have
you go the nody of a 20 something?

{end Dr Life ad}

DEBORAH CORNWALL: Dr Life is the septuagenarian poster boy for the industry. A shameless believer
that old age is a disease that needs curing.

Often with large helpings of testosterone.

{Start Dr Life infomercial}

DR LIFE: Next is a 62 year old, white male executive, he presents with fatigue, poor quality of
sleep, he can't remember the last time that he had an early morning erection. This is a typical
patient.

{End Dr Life infomercial}

DEBORAH CORNWALL: In an industry which is largely unregulated, cosmetic clinics are among the
biggest provider of anti-ageing treatments in Australia, many of them now offering hormone therapy
and antioxidents, alongside the tummy tucks and face lifts.

DR MICHAEL ELSTEIN, ANTI-AGEING PHYSICIAN: I think men are concerned about their sex drive and
women tend to be concerned a lot about the way they look.

(TO PATIENT): Ok, push out with your arms, push out.

DEBORAH CORNWALL: Sydney GP (General Practioner), Dr Michael Elstein, is one of the few medical
doctors in Australia who specialises in anti-ageing therapies.

An area largely dismissed by his colleagues as medicine for the neurotic worried well.

MALE PATIENT: I can be up for an hour, a couple of hours and I feel like I've got to go back to
bed.

DEBORAH CORNWALL: While Dr Elstein takes hormones himself, along with a whole slew of antioxidants,
he does warn his patients there are risks and there's no such thing as a magic youth elixir. Not
yet anyway.

MICHAEL ELSTEIN: This is a whole new area, the notion that baby boomers want to carry on forever.
We don't know how it's going to be achieved, and frankly we think it might be hormones or a bunch
of things but the science is still very woolly.

DEBORAH CORNWALL: Kate Marie says she was so maddened by the lack of reliable information in the
field she's just published her own guide book for consumers. She says some of the riskier
treatments, such as growth hormones, require a good practitioner and she's noticed a lot of men do
tend to go overboard with the testosterone.

KATE MARIE: They walk at you with this testosterone haze, 'look at me'. That's the downside. If men
take too many hormones and they don't know how to deal with that drive they become this sexual
animal and they're just always on the hunt.

PROFESSOR ADRIAN BAUMAN, PUBLIC HEALTH, UNIVERSITY OF SYDNEY: Very few of these anti-ageing
supplements and therapies are evidence based. In other words, there's no scientific evidence that
they work.

We need good studies to tell us what works.

DEBORAH CORNWALL: Sydney epidemiologist Professor Adrian Bowman has just started a 30 year study
tracking the ageing experience of 250,000 Australians over 45, including the impact of anti-ageing
therapies from vitamins to growth hormones.

ADRIAN BAUMAN: Most of the people who are consuming these anti-ageing medications are middle class,
wealthy and well educated. They're looking for hyper-health, they're looking for some incredibly
enhanced quantum of health which is probably unachievable.

DEBORAH CORNWALL: Professor Bowman says for now at least there's only a few sure bets that will
smooth the ride into old age: a healthy diet, good genes and exercise.

Mary Kindred is one of a growing number of older Australians who have taken to exercise, some for
the first time in their lives.

MARY KINDRED: I don't want to be in the walking frame. Mum was beautiful all her life, she always
said to me 'Black don't crack' and she had the most beautiful skin you ever wanna see, so pretty,
but she couldn't get around without the walking frame so she lived in her place, she didn't get
out. I want to go.

DEBORAH CORNWALL: Now on her eighth decade, Mary Kindred says while she's tried various treatments
like fish oil, she finds the quest for eternal youth all a bit exhausting.

MARY KINDRED: I was born in 1939 so I'm not quite a boomer. But the ones who are coming right now
they don't want to let go of anything, greedy little buggers, they wanna have youth forever, they
wanna be able to have sex forever.

DEBORAH CORNWALL: But while it may be decades before consumers like Kate Marie know for sure just
what treatments are really helping her, it's a risk, she says, that's worth taking.

KATE MARIE: I think it depends on how aggressive you want to be. Now a lot of people go it's not
worth the investment in your time. But God, when you're 80 or 90 or 100 you've got picture yourself
and go what sort of person do I want to be? I want it all.