The man above is 72, and he achieved his, um, surprising physique with the help of testosterone supplements. Now he wants to help other men do the same.
The Telegraph talked to Dr. Jeffry Life this week for a piece on the science of anti-aging. Life claims he transformed himself from a "typical out-of-shape middle-aged doctor" to a very atypical older doctor with the help of diet, exercise, and supplements. On his website, he writes, "Going through a traumatic divorce left me emotionally and physically devastated, and my relationship with my son and daughter seemed crippled. My self-esteem had never been lower, my waist never bigger, and my cholesterol levels never higher." Then he found a bodybuilding magazine, started taking EAS sports nutrition products, and became his current musclebound self. He adds, "More importantly, my relationship with my teenage son and daughter began to flourish. My daughter and I even started working out together."
But he didn't do accomplish this with just vitamins and protein bars. He also took testosterone and human growth hormone. A large portion of his website extols the virtues of testosterone. He writes,
By our 40s, we may start to feel the effects of the creeping hormonal loss: decreased libido, erectile dysfunction, decreased bone density, fatigue, weight gain, loss of muscle mass and strength, even anxiety/ depression. A traditional doctor may shrug off these symptoms as the "normal" signs of aging and leave it at that.
Or check testosterone level and — finding it to be in the "normal" range — allow the problem to go untreated.
He claims that the normal range of testosterone — 300-1,000 nanograms per deciliter of blood — is misleading, and argues, "I don't know about you, but I don't want to be low-grade on anything, especially not on issues as important as my health, well-being and sex life. Raising your testosterone level to the upper normal range of 900-1,100 can help keep you at the top of your game in all these areas." So, to review, testosterone can improve your sex life, your physique, your mental health, and even your relationship with your kids. Dr. Life doesn't actually sell testosterone on his website, but he does sell his book, which includes "lessons on how to get your doctor to provide the care you deserve" and a blurb from noted "bioidentical" hormone aficionado Suzanne Somers. For $3,995, you can also buy an "executive health evaluation" with Dr. Life himself. And for $4,050, you can get a 250-day supply of high-dose TA65, a supplement that purportedly lengthens telomeres — "anecdotal reports include energy increase, endurance, cognitive improvements, improved vision, sexual enhancement, and an overall feeling of well being."
Dr. Life tells the Telegraph that "there's a vast amount of literature on the subject that shows hormone therapy, if practised when necessary, under medical supervision, is perfectly safe." And it's true that a 2006 study found testosterone supplements didn't increase the risk of prostate cancer. But last year, a study had to be stopped when those who received the supplements showed a fourfold increased risk of cardiovascular disease. And a 2008 study found testosterone wasn't the panacea Dr. Life claims — it decreased body fat, but didn't improve mobility, cognitive function, or quality of life. It also lowered "good" cholesterol. The authors of that study wrote,
This study is, as far as we know, the largest study of testosterone supplementation with the most end points and a randomized, double-blind design. [...] The findings in this study do not support a net benefit on several indicators of health and functional and cognitive performance with 6 months of modest testosterone supplementation in healthy men with circulating testosterone levels in the lower range.
The evidence for testosterone therapy so far is mixed at best. But it's no surprise that Dr. Life and others are pushing it. Supplements are big business, and nearly everybody is scared of getting old. What Dr. Life's website — and his entire persona — show is that this fear isn't unique to women. Ladies are the targets of most anti-aging skin creams and serums, but men can be insecure about aging too — especially if it interferes with the masculine ideal of a hard body and a raging libido. And Dr. Life isn't the only one turning those insecurities into cash.
Has The Fountain Of Youth Been Found? [Telegraph]