By Ofer Zur, Ph.D.

Learn about Anti-Aging as a first step to building a lucrative private practice, while catering to Baby Boomers around aging issues, one of the hottest topic of our time.

Traditional medicine and healthcare have focused on diagnosing and treating diseases. Anti-aging medicine focuses on using scientific, evidenced-based methods to prevent, treat, and even reverse diseases and aging. The goal is to live long and be in good physical and mental health at every age. The field is exploding with exciting findings in gene therapy, tissue engineering, stem cell therapies, hormone therapies, brain research, pharmaceuticals, and nanotechnology. The field also has considerable hype and even charlatanism.


Myth #1: Highly optimistic people live longer.
Evidence: The Longevity Project, a longitudinal study that has followed the children in the Terman study since 1921, found that highly optimistic people don’t live as long because they tend to engage in too much risky behavior. The strongest psychological trait for longevity was conscientiousness.

Myth #2: Having a pet helps you live longer.
Evidence: The Longevity Project found no correlation between the frequency or amount of interaction with pets and longevity.

Myth #3: Happiness decreases with age.
Evidence: Americans are happiest in their twenties or thirties. Several studies find that Americans report becoming happier with age. For example, Mroczek & Kolarz’s study found happiness rising with age until peaking in the age bracket 68-77.

Myth #4: After adolescence, humans can form new dendrites but not new brain cells.
Evidence: Brain researchers find that people at every age, even people with Alzheimer’s and people dying of cancer, grow new brain cells, including hippocampal cells, which are critical for short-term memory.

Myth #5: People become more pessimistic with age.
Evidence: Psychologist Laura Carstensen finds the amygdalae (the fight or flight part of brains) become less reactive to threats and more receptive to positive input with age. This contributes to a more positive bias in recall and in decision making.

Myth #6: Midlife crises are to be expected.
Evidence: Only about 5% of people report the phenomenon and many of these are people who report crises at several points in their lives. The original research was poorly designed and has been contradicted by several studies including longitudinal studies.

Myth #7: Cholesterol is the primary cause of heart disease.
Evidence: Research indicates that 50% of people who have heart attacks have normal cholesterol levels. Cholesterol is only one of many factors that contribute to heart disease.

Myth #8: Cardiac bypass surgery saves lives.
Evidence: Three major studies found cardiac bypass surgery doesn’t prevent heart attacks or death any more than conservative medical treatment.

Myth #9: Longevity is mostly in the genes.
Evidence: Danish studies comparing identical and fraternal twins find that only about 20-25% of longevity is genetic. The other 75-80% is choices and lifestyle. Future advances in genetic engineering are likely to further reduce the role of genetics in longevity.

Myth #10: Disability rates are increasing.
Evidence: While it is true that Americans’ obesity and diabetes rates are climbing, measures of Americans’ ability to perform activities of daily living indicate that for seniors disability rates steadily have been declining since the US National Long-term Care Survey started collecting data in 1982.


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