The words "anti-ageing" are either met by wide-eyed anticipation or absolute horror depending on who you talk to. There are so many treatments out there for both men and women that range from the simple and - for the most part - safe use of vitamins, creams and supplements, to the more risky treatments of cosmetic surgery and testosterone therapy, which is on the rise in Australia and the United States.
For a man whose idea of grooming and anti-ageing is a weekly shave and a bit of Nivea Aftershave balm the idea of testosterone being injected into my body sounds like something from a David Cronenberg film, and the more I looked into it, the more terrified I became. In Australia, the number of people who have taken to testosterone therapy has nearly doubled in the last twenty years despite the health risks attached to it including cardiovascular disease and the acceleration of prostate disease.
The therapy is also being looked at as a potential treatment for obesity and diabetes, with preliminary results from 2010 by the Prince Henry Institute in Melbourne showing that people saw a reduction of body fat and improved muscle mass. I think I would rather stick to a healthy balance of fresh food and a visit to the gym, but that's my personal choice, I guess.
Anti-ageing is big business, and while there is such high demand for ways to keep looking younger without having to grind it out in the gym or by hitting the pavement every night, it will continue to be that way. But there is a difference between using some creams and supplements or visiting a health spa or beauty parlour once in a while and getting involved with the scarier side of anti-ageing. It used to be that you would only see these kinds of surgical horror shows in Hollywood and the rich. Now it seems to be spreading like wildfire as it becomes affordable to people with less money but just as much vanity.
I really enjoyed this article in the Guardian from last month, where the reporter Invisible Woman had headed to the UK's first anti-ageing fair with all the expectations and cynicism that I would have had in the same instance. In the end, eyebrows were raised and buzz-words were used, but the message that is conveyed is a positive one: Taking good care of yourself. That surely is the best way to keep turning back the clock after all. Eating well, being positive, getting exercise and looking good are surely better than injecting yourself with god-knows-what or going under the knife.
That's what it all comes down to for me: Instilling confidence in yourself. If that means using anti-ageing nutrients, creams and supplements, so be it. It's a personal choice and in the case of many of these natural solutions clearly work and do help you out. It's when you're being sold clearly bemusing anti-ageing techniques and when companies are preying on the less confident that I find it a little disturbing. I take vitamins, don't smoke, eat fairly healthily, and I get plenty of exercise. I'm a young looking 32, and I don't feel the urge for a testosterone injection just yet. Ask me again in 20 years.
You can't turn back the clock, but you can make it your friend. Hopefully that will be enough for the majority of people.