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The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences 59:B682-B691 (2004)
© 2004 The Gerontological Society of America

Anti-Aging Medicine: The Legal Issues

Anti-Aging Quackery: Human Growth Hormone and Tricks of the Trade—More Dangerous Than Ever

Thomas T. Perls

Geriatrics Section, and The New England Centenarian Study, Department of Medicine, Boston Medical Center, and Boston University School of Medicine, Massachusetts.

Address correspondence to Thomas T. Perls, MD, MPH, Geriatrics Section, Boston Medical Center, Robinson 2400, Albany Street, Boston, MA 02118. E-mail: thperls{at}

To assess the presence of quackery in the anti-aging industry, the Internet was surveyed for web sites marketing anti-aging products as well as those providing consumer advice regarding quackery and hucksterism. The United States Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and its amendments were reviewed, particularly as they pertain to dietary supplements and human growth hormone. Anti-aging quackery and hucksterism are pervasive on the Internet and in clinics advertising anti-aging treatments. Review of the marketing techniques of the industry revealed 15 common ruses used by many in the industry to market their products. Federal law states that distributing or administering human growth hormone for anti-aging or age-related problems is illegal. Nonetheless, anti-aging clinics thrive, administering human growth hormone to thousands of gullible and oftentimes vulnerable patients. Anti-aging quackery has become a multimillion dollar industry exacting great monetary, health, and social costs. Consumers and health care providers alike are wise to educate themselves on how to recognize quackery. Congress must reassess the wisdom of the 1994 Dietary Supplements Health and Education Act, which facilitates and, in numerous cases, endangers Americans on a grand scale. In the case of some substances such as human growth hormone, adequate legal safeguards are impotent without adequate resources allocated to enforcement agencies.

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T. T. Perls, N. R. Reisman, and S. J. Olshansky
Provision or Distribution of Growth Hormone for "Antiaging": Clinical and Legal Issues
JAMA, October 26, 2005; 294(16): 2086 - 2090.
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