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Advances in health and medicine.
Marjorie Bekaert Thomas
Advances in health and medicine.
Seniors' Health Channel
Reported May 7, 2010

Age Wave: Shot of Vigor or Quackery?

LAS VEGAS (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Baby boomers: Some 79 million strong are going gray! Many are refusing to surrender their youth without a fight. The question: How long can we live the good life? Scientists are split over whether there's a biological limit to how old a human can get. Some bet the first person who will live to 150 was born by the year 2000. But living a long life isn't enough for most people. Not only are researchers trying to figure out how to extend our years, but also our vigor.


Workout. Take vitamins. Work out. John Bellizzi's routine is like a lot of ours, but this 51 year old is willing to go a lot further than most of us to keep fit. Twice a week he gives himself a shot.


"The one that I take is made from urine from pregnant women," Bellizzi told Ivanhoe.


Bellizzi is part of a growing group of men who are using human chorionic gonadotropi, or HCG, an injection of testosterone.


"I've had people come up to me and say, 'What? Are you crazy?'" Bellizzi said. "With the added testosterone in my body, I build muscle mass quicker. I have more vigor. I'm thinking faster."


His stats prove something is working. In two years he's dropped and kept off 16 pounds, lowered his body fat by 13 percent and dropped 50 points off his cholesterol.


"By 40, there's a tremendous decline in hormone levels," Robert Willix, M.D., CEO of Cenegenics in Las Vegas, Nev., told Ivanhoe. "We believe if you can keep them somewhere at the level they were at 30, you can reduce the damage that's done through the aging process."


It's the latest trend at the Cenegenics Medical Institute in Las Vegas. They say 2,000 people have come here to turn back time.


"We can't fight aging," Dr. Willix said. "We're all going to get old. I don't look the same as I did at 18, but we can manage the way we age, so at the age of 68 I can do the same things I did when I was 20."


Patients go through a seven-hour physical and then have a nutrition, exercise and supplement plan designed for them. For 44-year-old Paul Wilkes, that means spending $1,300 a month on HCG and other hormone injections to boost his testosterone.


"I was skeptical that it was going to be safe, and I was even more skeptical that it was going to be effective," Wilkes told Ivanhoe. "I felt a difference in the first six weeks."


Wilkes' body fat dropped. He put on 35 pounds of muscle, and says he feels like he did in his 30s.

"My strength has gone through the roof," he said. "I'm probably 300 percent of what I was when I started."


Some worry what's being practiced here is taking us down a dangerous road medicine has traveled before.


"We used to think that by replacing estrogen, we would rejuvenate women, and low and behold, we found the opposite: We actually created more heart disease, blood clots and cognitive impairment than we prevented," Lewis Lipsitz, M.D., director of the Institute for Aging Research at Hebrew SeniorLife in Boston, Mass., told Ivanhoe.


So when it comes to injecting HCG, there's still uncertainty.


"I think the whole growth hormone area of research right now is very murky," MIT biologist Lenny Guarente, Ph.D., said.


"I think that they are advertising a toxic soup for you, and it's really something to avoid at all costs," said Tom Perls, Ph.D., director of the New England Centenarian Study at Boston Medical Center in Boston, Mass. "It's really modern-day quackery and hucksterism in my opinion."


Is it the beginning of a new age management revolution? Even the naysayers say that although medicine isn't there yet, it soon will be.


"There will certainly be pills and drugs that we can take to stay younger and healthier longer," Dr. Guarente said. "I think that this is imminent."


But believers say the fountain of youth isn't just in a shot or magic pill. They follow a low-glycemic diet and exercise every day.


"Exercise is a critical component of this," Bellizzi added. "You're not going to get these results by taking HCG and nothing else."


People searching for something we would all like to find.


Australian researchers say they believe a compound found in human semen can have a dramatic impact on lifespan. A team is testing the effects of a substance known as spermidine. Researchers say it removes cellular garbage like damaged cells. It increased the life of fruit flies by 30 percent and worms' by 15 percent. When spermidine was applied to human immune cells, they too lived longer.

More Information

Click here for additional research on Shot of Vigor or Quackery?

Click here for Ivanhoe's full-length interview with Dr. Perls

If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Melissa Medalie at

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