What is aging and antiaging

Anti aging

Wonder pills from the supermarket

In the fight against wrinkles, hair loss and physical ailments, Germans now rely on anti-aging medicine. Cosmetic surgeons are booming, hormone and pill cures are all the rage. Not least because many of the supposed miracle cures are easy to order over the Internet.

In the USA in particular, so-called food supplements are offered in supermarkets: "wonder pills" that are supposed to help against aging, but their effectiveness has never been tested.

The purity of the ingredients is also not guaranteed, so that taking the preparations is quite risky. Especially when everyone can determine for themselves how much of what they take on a daily basis. Not to mention possible interactions with other drugs. Many of the preparations offered in the USA or on the Internet are not approved in Germany.

With vitamins against free radicals?

So-called antioxidants are among the most popular anti-aging agents. They include freely available vitamin supplements. Provitamin A, vitamin C and E are supposed to render the aggressive oxygen radicals produced in the metabolism harmless and protect the body cells from wear and tear.

Nobel laureate in chemistry, Linus Pauling, was one of the first to take large doses of vitamin C every day to prevent aging. Linus Pauling was 91 years old. Whether vitamin C was one of the reasons for this cannot be proven.

The human body has sufficient functioning radical scavenger systems. Vitamins in greatly increased concentrations are excreted by the body and are of no use.

Some vitamins can even be harmful in too high doses. There is also evidence that free radicals are valuable for cell communication and a well-functioning immune system.


The use of the sleep hormone melatonin is not recommended. It is formed in the pineal gland in the brain and primarily controls our internal clock, but is also considered a radical catcher.

The hormone is produced less frequently in old age. Therefore, many speculate on positive effects if melatonin is additionally taken in later years. But what happens when melatonin is taken in high doses over a long period of time is questionable.

Melatonin affects a number of organs and hormonal systems. Its all-round effect can hardly be assessed. Doctors therefore advise against obtaining prescription drugs with the active ingredient melatonin illegally from the Internet. Even with melatonin, there is so far no evidence of an age-retarding effect.

Calorie reduction

Some scientists believe that consuming fewer calories each day lowers your metabolic rate. This means that less cell-damaging free radicals could be formed.

Possibly the low-calorie diet is really the best approach to postpone the onset of typical age-related diseases. At least in mice, rats and monkeys, the first attempts to reduce calories have resulted in a longer lifespan.

Similar observations have been made in humans. In the "BiosphereII" ecosystem isolated from the outside world, food production no longer worked properly. In order to be able to continue the experiment, the "bionauts" had to keep a diet.

After two years, at around 1,800 calories per day at the end, cholesterol levels, blood pressure and blood sugar levels were all low. On the other hand, the number of immune cells in the blood had also decreased. Perhaps the extent of the diet was too radical.

Anti-aging therapies and hormone therapy

The hormone levels in the body decrease with age - in women as well as men. This is a normal process that begins after the reproductive period ends. Growth hormones (GH) and sex hormones (estrogen, testosterone) are said to improve physical fitness. What is good in youth should also help the aging body.

In women, menopause symptoms have long been relieved with estrogen. The principle seems plausible and is now also becoming fashionable with men.

Sex hormones provide new muscle growth and greater skin elasticity in the short term. But nature has not intended higher hormone levels in old age and whether they have a life-prolonging effect must also be doubted.

On the contrary: The never-ending discussion about hormone administration in women should urge caution. An increased risk of breast cancer and thrombosis is associated with it. The lack of long-term studies on hormone replacement therapies keeps fueling the discussions.

And that also applies in principle to growth hormones like HGH. If one assumes that the number of genetic defects and thus the number of genetically unstable cells increases with age, these cells would possibly mutate into cancer cells more quickly through growth hormones.

Interventions in the endocrine system are associated with great risks because of the multiple interactions between organs and tissues.

The fountain of youth hormone DHEA

Male and female sex hormones are formed from DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone). The concentration of DHEA decreases by up to 80 percent with age.

Anti-aging doctors suspect that additional doses of DHEA promote various growth processes in the body. The muscle mass should increase, the skin should regenerate better. Also mentioned are positive effects in general disorders, stress, immune deficiency, cardiovascular diseases and osteoporosis.

However, such positive DHEA effects have not yet been proven. In contrast, there are studies that associate additional DHEA intake with incalculable cancer risks.

The all-round weapon growth hormone

Growth hormones like HGH are considered an all-round weapon against aging by anti-aging doctors. The description of the effects of growth hormones range from fat loss, skin regeneration, better sugar utilization (diabetes), building up muscle mass, improving bone metabolism to anti-depressive properties.

The possible advantages are obvious. But: The same could also apply to growth hormones in old age as to DHEA. Nobody knows how high doses work in old age over a longer period of time.

Aging fit and healthy

If there is a recipe for longevity, then age researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore come to the following points: