No Miracle Drug for Healthy Aging

Related topics: Health & Wellness, Medications, Financial

Unscrupulous companies make impossible promises to older consumers. A healthy lifestyle includes healthy skepticism!

Senior man getting up from his wheelchair as if he's taken a miracle cure

People of all ages want to look and feel their best. At a time when many older Americans are resolving to improve their health, the International Council on Active Aging (ICAA) is urging consumers to beware of false promises and products with little health benefit. Unfortunately, as people over 50 pursue healthful aging, many succumb to what ICAA founder and CEO Colin Milner calls "graywashing" — claims that chip away at older adults' nest eggs with dubious promises of renewed youth and health.

There is no shortcut to health. "Yet people spend billions of dollars a year on products that claim there is," notes Milner. "Many products also say they will turn back time. But research shows these claims to be unsubstantiated."

Milner points to a statement by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), a component of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, which states: "Despite claims about pills or treatments that lead to endless youth, no treatment has been proven to slow or reverse the aging process." Be aware, Milner cautions, as health fraud scams are abundant.

According to the NIA, common health scams include:

  • Dietary/weight loss supplements. Americans spend a small fortune on potions claiming to help them shed pounds, many sold over the counter. Some supplements contain hidden illegal drugs and other chemicals that could cause serious harm.
  • Arthritis remedies. Magnets, copper bracelets, chemicals, special diets and electronic devices are expensive, potentially harmful, and unlikely to help.

Health scams often target common, chronic or incurable medical issues in an attempt to trick people who are desperate for any remedy they can find. Buzzwords to beware of include "quick fix," "secret ingredient" or "scientific breakthrough."

Don't be swayed by personal testimonials featuring "real people" or "doctors" played by actors claiming amazing results. Testimonials are no substitute for real scientific proof, and can tip you off to a scam. In general, never purchase or start taking a medical treatment without first talking to a healthcare professional, particularly if you already take other prescribed drugs.

Weight loss, sexual enhancement and bodybuilding "supplements" are especially suspect. In particular, avoid those supplements claiming to shrink tumors, solve impotence or cure Alzheimer's.

Some vitamins may be of benefit, but some supplements can harm people who are taking certain medicines or who have certain medical conditions.

Be knowledgeable about the products you buy, suggests Milner. The NIA recommends that you question what you see or hear in ads or online; ask your doctor, nurse, pharmacist or other healthcare provider about products you're thinking of buying; and avoid products that:

Senior man scrutinzing his medication

  • Promise a quick or painless cure.
  • Claim the product is made from a special, secret or ancient formula.
  • Come only by mail or from one company.
  • Use statements or unproven case histories from so-called satisfied patients.
  • Claim to be a cure for a wide range of ailments.
  • Claim to cure a disease (such as arthritis or Alzheimer's disease) that medical science has yet to cure.
  • Require advance payment and claim a limited supply of product.

"Science may be getting closer to a Fountain of Youth," says Milner, "but we're not there yet. Be wise and use your common sense. If something seems too good to be true, it almost certainly is." He adds, "The pillars of healthy aging are simple. They include a sensible diet, regular exercise, good sleep habits, meaningful relationships, and engagement in life."

Source: The International Council on Active Aging (ICAA), an association that leads, connects and defines the active-aging industry, and supports professionals who develop wellness facilities, programs and services for adults over 50. The ICAA is also sponsor of Active Aging Week, this year to be held September 25 – October 1, 2016.