I recently had the pleasure of talking to journalist Arlene Weintraub about her remarkable book Selling the Fountain of Youth How the Anti-Aging Industry Made a Disease Out of Getting Old – and Made Billions. In this interview for BellaOnline.com, Arlene shares her insight into the power of marketing and its ability to turn obscure medical practices into consumer trends.
This first part of our interview looks at the power of celebrity endorsement and what consumers should be aware of when seeking medical advice.
Q: What are your reactions to readers who still insist on perusing questionable medical treatments; those people willing to assume the risks to add more life to their years no matter what the costs?
Being fully aware of legitimate and severe menopause symptoms some women experience, Weintraub understands a patient’s temptation to seek out something, anything, that will help ease the suffering. But she urges women (and men) to exercise caution with ‘cures’ that sound too good to be true.
Weintraub points out most traditional doctors should work with their patients and suggest hormone replacement therapy (HRT) beginning with the smallest dose possible for the shortest time possible. If you need more than your general practitioner’s advice, qualified OB-Gyns or Endocrinologists are well-trained in hormonal matters.
Q: Anti-aging (as menopause), is considered an illness when it is really just a natural transition. But are we wrong to want to live a better quality of life and avoid the rocking chair?
“Aging is a natural process that can be managed, but there are no magic pills or formulas to postpone or reverse aging.” Weintraub suggests the tried and true method of exercise as one of, if not the best, ways to ensure the healthiest possible body for life. She further notes, “All drugs have side effects, even those items not regulated as drugs by the FDA. Anyone should be careful about putting any substance into an otherwise healthy body.” Nothing is ever really foolproof.
Q: As a journalist, you have witnessed the apparent shift from trusting only medical professionals (the men and women in white lab coats who look like serious researchers) to placing implicit trust in celebrities. What do you think accounts for this?
“Celebrity endorsement is hardly anything new in our society and has been used for many products. However, the anti-aging industry understands the power of marketing. Problems arise when the line is blurred between who are the ‘experts’ and people are confused.” Images speak volumes and often a well-crafted infomercial or television appearance grabs our attention in ways a medical journal article cannot.
Celebrities are persuasive and for aging Boomers, it is difficult to resist the ‘proof’ offered by a living and breathing personality. Weintraub stresses the danger lies when people latch blindly onto aggressive treatment options. These options may work for one individual, but have not been scientifically proven for widespread or long term use.
To continue reading this interview, please click on the link below.
A very special thank you to Arlene Weintraub for our telephone interview.
Learn more about Arlene Weintraub and her research by visiting www.arleneweintraub.com