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Anti-aging market focuses on baby boomers

Baby boomers heading into what used to be called retirement age are providing a 70-million member market for legions of companies, entrepreneurs and cosmetic surgeons eager to capitalize on their "forever young" mindset, whether it's through wrinkle creams, face-lifts or workout regimens.

It adds up to a potential bonanza. The market research firm Global Industry Analysts projects that a boomer-fueled consumer base, "seeking to keep the dreaded signs of aging at bay," will push the U.S. market for anti-aging products from about $80 billion now to more than $114 billion by 2015.

The boomers grew up in a culture glamorizing youth, and they will face an array of choices as to whether and how to be a part of that market.

Anti-aging enthusiasts contend that life spans can be prolonged through interventions such as hormone replacement therapy and dietary supplements.

Critics, including much of the medical establishment, say many anti-aging interventions are ineffective or harmful.

From mainstream organizations such as the National Institute on Aging, the general advice is to be a skeptical consumer on guard for possible scams involving purported anti-aging products.

"Our culture places great value on staying young, but aging is normal," the institute says.

"Despite claims about pills or treatments that lead to endless youth, no treatments have been proven to slow or reverse the aging process," the institute added.

Its advice for aging well is basic: Eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, don't smoke.

-- AP

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