By Sue Kovach
Founded in 1992, the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine (A4M) was the first medical association to establish the specialty of anti-aging medicine. Today, this innovative, non-profit medical organization leads the way in educating tens of thousands of physicians and researchers worldwide about the burgeoning science of preventing and reversing age-related disease and disability.
Origins of Anti-Aging Medicine
As recently as the early 1980s, few doctors were even aware of the concept of anti-aging medicine. While a small number of practitioners were following recommendations made by the Life Extension Foundation, most alternative medical doctors were focused on treating existing diseases using novel methods rather than on trying to slow the aging process itself.
As membership in the Life Extension Foundation expanded, a growing number of physicians learned about scientific discoveries that might enable humans to achieve longer and healthier life spans. At the same time, greater numbers of Americans were seeking knowledgeable doctors who could provide consultations, perform blood tests, and prescribe therapies such as metformin and testosterone that had begun to show potential benefit in protecting against the effects of aging.
By 1992, there was clearly strong consumer demand for doctors with expertise in the field of anti-aging medicine. However, even at that late date, no formal education or accreditation program existed to provide mainstream physicians with the specialized knowledge required to implement medically supervised anti-aging treatments.
To address this problem, Drs. Ronald M. Klatz and Robert Goldman convened a meeting of a dozen physicians in Chicago in August 1992. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss breakthroughs in anti-aging science and to create the medical specialty of anti-aging medicine. Drs. Klatz and Goldman launched a campaign of education and advocacy designed to promote mainstream acceptance of anti-aging medicine around the world. For the first time, they conceived a clear definition of anti-aging medicine:
“Anti-aging medicine is a medical specialty founded on the application of advanced scientific and medical technologies for the early detection, prevention, treatment, and reversal of age-related dysfunction, disorders, and diseases. It is a health care model promoting innovative science and research to prolong the healthy life span in humans. As such, anti-aging medicine is based on principles of sound and responsible medical care that are consistent with those applied in other preventive health specialties.”
Growing Influence Changes Medical Practice
Having defined this new medical specialty and created an agenda for advocacy, these pioneering physicians established the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine (A4M). Today, the organization boasts a membership of more than 17,500 physicians, scientists, researchers, and other health practitioners in 85 countries. It has certified more than 1,500 physicians in the specialty of anti-aging medicine. As acceptance of anti-aging medicine continues to grow, A4M’s membership continues to increase, drawing members of the working press and general public. A4M is now a leading educational organization dedicated to the scientific premise that the diseases and disabilities of human aging are largely preventable, treatable, and perhaps even reversible.
A4M’s founding created a whole new generation of physicians whose goal is to help their patients avoid degenerative diseases and extend the healthy human life span. While traditional physicians focus on treating disease and managing chronic conditions with pharmaceuticals and surgical procedures, anti-aging doctors practice preventive health care that is truly multidisciplinary. They blend advanced technologies for the early detection of degenerative diseases with wellness and prevention therapies that include nutrition, supplementation, mind/body medicine, and exercise.
The presence and influence of A4M and its member physicians have changed the traditional field of medicine, which once dismissed notions of extending the healthy human life span as both unsupported and unscientific. Before A4M, scientists who pursued approaches to halt or reverse the process of human aging risked loss of funding, while physicians doing the same risked censure or forfeit of academic positions.
Today, however, traditional physicians are taking cues from anti-aging doctors and are shifting their focus toward prevention. Many are embracing anti-aging treatments and recommending supplements and nutritional therapies to their patients. Articles on anti-aging medicine are now a staple of prestigious mainstream medical journals such as Aging, American Family Physician, the American Journal of Cardiology, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the Archives of Internal Medicine, the Journal of the American Medical Association, and the Lancet.
Committed to Education and Advocacy
A4M’s extensive physician education programs are advancing acceptance of the specialty, with physician enrollments steadily rising for training and accreditation. Pioneering A4M courses include: Endocrinology: A Practical Application of Treating Adult Hormone Deficiency Using Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy; Laboratory Tests for Anti-Aging Medicine; IV Nutrition and Chelation; Critical Hormone Links to Brain Aging, Protection, and Repair; and New Developments in Phytochemical Nutrition for Anti-Aging: Prevention of Atherosclerosis.
Today, A4M trains more than 30,000 physicians, health practitioners, and scientists each year at dozens of scientific conferences throughout the world. In the coming year, A4M will host three major scientific meetings in the US, with a combined attendance expected to exceed 13,000 physicians. Among attending conference delegates, 95% use and recommend nutritional therapeutics, 80% perform in-office procedures, and 55% dispense anti-aging therapeutics in their offices.
A4M has also had a profound influence on physician education in traditional medical schools. The organization provides university co-sponsored or jointly sponsored continuing education for physicians with the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education, the American Medical Association, and the American Osteopathic Association. It offers scholarships for medical students and faculty to attend A4M educational conferences for physicians. A4M publishes Anti-Aging Therapeutics, the first continuous series of medical textbooks in the field of anti-aging medicine, as well as periodicals for clinicians and researchers. It also furnishes medical schools and libraries with anti-aging medical textbooks.
A4M distributes more than 1 million pieces of educational material annually to physicians, scientists, educational institutions, the news media, and governmental agencies locally and worldwide. It continues to integrate anti-aging medicine into the mainstream through activities such as:
A4M’s work to raise awareness and increase the acceptance of anti-aging medicine is truly a global pursuit. Co-founder Dr. Robert Goldman frequently travels overseas and has promoted numerous initiatives to address rapidly aging populations in nations around the world. The organization encourages countries in Europe, South America, Asia, and North America to institute public policy changes and train physicians to address challenges posed by their aging populations.
On the political front at home, A4M has long advocated an increase in the federal budget allocation to fund scientists studying anti-aging interventions. Total funding in 2006 for the National Institutes of Health was $28 billion, of which less than 0.1% was devoted to investigating the biology of aging. Former anti-aging naysayers are now proposing that the US government invest $3 billion annually in efforts to study aging-related disease.
Science is making unprecedented gains in extending the maximum human life span and enhancing its quality. A4M has contributed greatly to the ongoing discussion of life extension and has created a new field of medicine that provides a model for the future of health care. A4M-trained researchers and physicians are now bringing the science and practice of anti-aging medicine to a public that is hungry for innovative approaches to living longer, healthier lives.
Learn more about the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine (A4M) by visiting www.worldhealth.net.