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Ageing is not a disease!

April 8, 2008
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I have always believed that the Beauty Care Industry is a fraud, more so treatments which promise to make one look younger. What you eat, how much you exercise, how healthy you are and what your genes say is what affects your looks. The “treatments” are at best superficial and temporary. In any case, I don’t believe that ageing needs to be fought tooth and nail. Sure, it’s great to try and look young and healthy but why risk long term health?Botox

This injectable skin cream (which is what I like to call Botox), was approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) in 1989 for therapeutic use and in 2002 for cosmetic use. In India the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) approved it in 2006 and the company Allergan Inc supplies the drug. BOTOX® is their registered product (botulinum toxin type A).

It’s supposedly safe as it’s not the bacteria itself which is injected into people – just the toxin…and is that supposed to make us feel good?? They say there is a wide safety margin – the amounts injected being so small that they don’t cause harm. Wonder why that doesn’t make one feel better either!

Botox, once injected into the muscle that causes say a wrinkle, prevents the nerves from doing their job, it effectively blocks the connection between the nerve and muscle! That’s pretty unnatural and sounds unnerving, to me at least.

But the demand for Botox is growing in India, despite that fact that we Indians age fairly well. The fact that the proceedure takes just a few minutes and involves no hospitalisation is a factor in its popularity. No one seems to care that you have to keep doing it every few months. India’s first “Botox Lounge” opened in Mumbai last year, with a “spa-like setting.” Botox, like other anti-ageing treatments is catching on fast, and in fact the anti-ageing market itself was estimated to be about Rs 300 crores a couple of years ago.

Botox is getting a darned good press as the PR agencies representing companies that sell botox and the docs that do botox are hammering away at journalists to write the good stuff.

But all news isn’t good. The latest news is that this neurotoxin “can move from its injection site to the brain”! And well, from here on there could be “transmission to the central nervous system.” The results of this study have been published in a recent issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.

Those whose livelihood depends on Botox will naturally deny any such side-effects and demand that more studies are done.

Users will be in denial too. Particularly so if they are in show business and their career depends on it. They don’t use Botox just to fight age but to survive in the rat race. The stars work out to get that muscled lean look but as a result their face loses its fullness. Botox fixes this and in fact more male stars are said to use Botox than women! Men in western countries use Botox a lot too. I guess men need it more because they hang around for longer (till they are older) in showbiz. For those in show business Botox has become necessary weapon in a world where fresh young faces and nubile bodies are dime a dozen. What I wonder is how these actors are able to act when parts of their faces are paralyzed! I guess for people like SRK it’s fine, it will cut down his overacting!

Even politicians are rumoured to have used it. For example Hilary Clinton.

But it’s a mistake to think that older people go in for Botox. Mostly it’s the young, if you can call those between the ages of 30-45 young. That is because Botox has its limitations. It cannot get rid of all lines and wrinkles and therefore works best with younger patients.

In fact I rather feel sorry for anyone who feels a compulsion to use unnatural remedies like steroids and toxins for the sake of their career. It is even sadder when ordinary people do it, just for the “social” benefit, as if ageing is some sort of disease. It’s a shame to read on Botox sites that wrinkles are ‘unsightly.’

There are side effects. People who have botox injections may develop new wrinkles as a result of the treatment, as people may unconsciously try to recreate the same expression by using “nearby muscles to compensate” for the loss of ability in one set. So far doctors only caution patients about side-effects like “droopy eyelids, feeling like you have the flu, headaches, upset stomachs etecetra, all minor symptoms.” They say that unless the wrong dose is given, and that too the wrong way and in the wrong place, Botox is safe.

But let’s not forget that Botox has been in use in use for less than two decades and no one knows exactly what the long-term effects of Botox are. At best one can justify using using it as a therapeutic agent (for treatment of spasticity, excessive sweating, excessive blinking), but is it justifiable to use it as a cosmetic? One does not know the long term effects of Botox or how it combines with other drugs or what happens when people with certain conditions are treated with it. Interestingly, an article by Michael Russell talks of a study which shows that Botox doctors “fail to take a person’s medical history before administering these injections.”

I think that using Botox could well lead to serious repercussions 30 years from now.

The dangers of Botox will surface eventually. Just last month there were warnings that children could suffer fatal consequences if treated with Botox (kids are usually given Botox for medical purposes) and there are reports of serious side-effects in adults as well.

If you want to read more about Botox you can read this. To find out how Botox works, you can go here. No one actually says Botox is harmful despite the fact that “the botulinum toxins block the signals that would normally tell your muscles to contract…” And the company that makes Botox will fight a long battle to keep it that way. It is up to each individual to decide whether he/she wants to take a risk for a face-fix.

(First photograph is from smh.com and the second from telegraph.co.uk)

Update: This is a perfect video from Utube which is the perfect ending to this piece. The message is: Talk to your daughter before the beauty industry does. The link was passed on to me by Axinia. Thanks Axinia!

Dove Onslaught

Related Reading: Anti-wrinkle creams don’t really work a study says
The ‘Dove’ video which reveals that “beautiful” women in ads are not real
The common myths about skin (from a doctor)

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27 Comments leave one →
  1. April 8, 2008 8:08 am

    As it is, I’m scared of injections :) Why try to do anything against the forces of nature? You surely must have heard what Demi Moore does to keep herself young- She recently declared that she gets some sort of leech treatment done in which a number of leeches are let loose on her stomach and they suck out her blood and detoxify her body. :| She’s enjoyed it a lot and plans to increase the number of leeches.

  2. April 8, 2008 11:51 am

    I fully agree. Ageing is not a disease. It is nature’s gift.

  3. April 8, 2008 12:30 pm

    ..I agree ..on SRK…he should have botox on his complete face….then he would certainly win an oscar :P

  4. Guqin permalink
    April 8, 2008 12:32 pm

    Life is long.
    Youth is short.

    Dying is easy.
    Ageing is hard.

    I think the reason behind nature’s design of ageing and dying is to force people to be spiritual: a young beggar can walk up to a proud ageing emperor and asks “Are you immortal?!”

    Learn to be humble. This is the message spoken by ageing and death. Modern western culture refuses this message.

  5. aquariius permalink
    April 8, 2008 1:43 pm

    hi nita, another small fact readers might find interesting – allergan, the company responsible for botox, is currently under investigation by the us department of justice to see how the company is promoting the drug… they are concerned that the drug botox might be promoted as a treatment of headaches – a use which has not been approved by the FDA

    I heard this on a business program on the radio which i podcast, just recently. the program went on to say that although the company is testing botox as a possible treatment for headaches it is not currently authorized to promote it for that use.

    cheers

  6. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    April 8, 2008 2:26 pm

    Rahul,
    I thought Oscars were given for performance, not looks — unless you are trying to suggest that the doctor in question get.

    Nita,
    A serious money-spinning venture, catering to an obvious demand, a FRAUD? So what if the demand is created by aggressive marketing and intrusive advertising? You are questioning the very basics of Capitalism, which I thought could never be wrong! :-)

  7. April 8, 2008 2:49 pm

    I think It’s 100% FRAUD/SCAM.

    There is one thing we do know for sure. As we grow older, we have special reasons to think twice before putting these substances in our bodies.

    Bottom line is – Healthy lifestyle is the only secret to healthy ageing…. and there is no ant-ageing :)

  8. April 8, 2008 3:59 pm

    Ruhi, agree that going against nature will exact a price. And no I didn’t know about Demi Moore…but as leeches are natural I guess she might be okay, I mean in body if not in the head! :)

    Old Sailor, Ageing as nature’s gift. Nicely put. When I was young I always looked forward to being “mature” and in fact my happiest years have been after the age of 35. By that time one’s doubts and fears seem to vanish. Well, at least in my case that has been the case, after the age of 30 I became happier…and happier! One seems to understand so many things.

    Gugin, the concept that ageing is hard is a western concept. It is not ingrained in eastern cultures. Ageing can only be hard if one is obsessed by the physical.

    Rahul, :)

    Aquarius, thanks for that info. I am sure that Allergan is doing a lot more insidious things which we don’t know about. It will all come out by and by.

    Vivek, Rahul meant acting. SRK is known for overacting and if his face is frozen he won’t be able to overact..
    And no I don’t see a company cheating consumers as capitalism. I am all for an anti-ageing measure that not just works, but is safe. The demand is there and let a company come and satisfy it. The product has to be genuine. Let a demand be created by aggressive advertising, that is the right of the company. But fooling consumers is not capitalism, it’s cheating. That is why we have consumer bodies so active in capitalist economies. Every single thing in this world needs checks and balances.

    Bharath, yeah I agree. So far there is no magic pill to make us young! The only way is a decent lifestyle but vulnerable people will always get taken in.

  9. April 8, 2008 4:11 pm

    As depicted in the pic, I don’t think it is wise to inject Buttocks in Brain, coz. that way we are trying to challenge the entire biology of humans.

    Its not going in the right direction…nope…not at all…

  10. April 8, 2008 5:15 pm

    well you are as young as you feel you are…:) i don’t like the idea of taking stuff like that…..i don’t even use powder…and well deo because if i don’t i start stinking within 5 minutes…

  11. Guqin permalink
    April 8, 2008 6:46 pm

    Nita, thanks! You see, I myself fell victim of what I was critizing!

  12. April 8, 2008 8:04 pm

    Nita, how could I miss to comment on this post? :)

    I concider myself a spitirual person and deep inside I dont care about many things of the ouer world. But I live in this world, and , honestly, even me, I feel quite a pressure of this “aging beautiful” business… And the pressure is very hard in the West!! :)

    Your article is brilliat, as ever, and I was surprised to read that botox is becomming so popular in India! – Idians have a wonderufl skin and they age indeed very well. Lucky you! :)

  13. April 8, 2008 8:12 pm

    Hi Nita and the quests!
    Have you seen the Dove follow-up video? I think it is the best illustration for this post.

    Axinia, I have added the link you gave into my main post and deleted it from here. Hope that’s okay with you. And thanks for this fantastic link! It expresses exactly what I wanted to say! – Nita.

  14. April 8, 2008 9:54 pm

    Anshul, whether they inject into the area near the brain or not, it still gets to the brain, that’s what the research says.

    Vishesh, as long as you don’t join showbiz I guess you won’t be tempted!

    Gugin, you are welcome.

    Axinia, I understand perfectly your conflict. It is indeed difficult when the environment seems to beg you to act in a certain way. In India, it is mostly the well-to-do and those in showbiz who are falling victim to this disease. As Indians are getting richer and going global it is only going to increase. And thanks again for the video link. I had I think seen it but forgotten all about it. As you said it is the best illustration for this post.

  15. April 8, 2008 10:52 pm

    Nita,

    Nice post.It (especially the first line) makes me ‘feel good’.I think Botox is deadly dangerous and should be avoided at all costs.

  16. April 8, 2008 11:07 pm

    When I was young I always looked forward to being “mature” and in fact my happiest years have been after the age of 35. By that time one’s doubts and fears seem to vanish.

    wow with men it is probably the other way around :-)

    nice discussion , my mom has aged she has wrinkles but darn , she is still one of the prettiest women i know .

  17. April 9, 2008 12:03 am

    On a vacation to Alaska I recall running into a young woman who gushed with joy when I revealed I was then, 45. She was from Indonesia and said she couldn’t wait to be forty. I was stunned. She said in her country reaching 40 was cause for celebration and it brought with it respect and admiration. Dang. All reaching 40 gets a woman in the states is email from AARP and endless propaganda that you are washed up, over the hill and might as well drop dead.

  18. April 9, 2008 12:07 am

    Having a face like an old leather suitcase that seems to have been thrown around, if i submitted myself to Botox treatments i’d worry that i’d begin to strongly resemble a shrunken head. Besides which, a frozen, fixed expression is rather frightening. i’d rather have an expressive face and an old one, than a stony one. Botox is definitely NOT one of the better modern inventions around. G ;-)

  19. April 9, 2008 2:39 am

    Nita, I am pleased you used the link for the post. The video is rather heavy but very trure…

  20. April 9, 2008 3:47 pm

    Raj, thanks.

    Prax, I agree that wrinkles are not ugly. One of my aunts was stunningly at the age of 80! Her silver hair was soft and well cared for. Her skin too glowed, although it was lined and wrinkled. Her eyes were bright and dancing and her figure erect and agile. If anything her age had made her more beautiful, as it was predominantly her expression which made her look beautiful. Everyone does not become beautiful as they age. When people are nasty it starts to show by the age of 50. There is nothing as beautiful as when one sees a life well and wisely lived in a person’s face. By the time you are 50, the inner beauty is revealed by the body. Youthful faces can be pretty identical I think!

    Claire, I am sad to hear that people think like this. The older you grow the more you have to give.That is why age is valued. The only reason why the media and society makes a fuss over youth is because for them youth = money. But money is not what life is all about. If that was the case we might as well have no souls and no heart.

    Suburban, I too find the idea of a frozen fixed face scary and it reminds me of Michael Jackson. He is an extreme example, but he is an epitome of what this obsession with the physical appearance does to people.

  21. April 9, 2008 4:46 pm

    nita i wasnt talking about looks yes i agree with where/what ur leading to – yes there is that tej /radiation
    but what matters most to me is her heart
    nyways did u watch juno? i wd love to hear ur take on it

  22. April 11, 2008 2:56 am

    Any culture/society that fears old age and focuses primarily on external looks, will go to great lengths to fool oneself by such devices, forgetting that nature cannot be fooled by a façade.

  23. April 11, 2008 9:50 am

    Prax, will probably have to watch Juno on CD now as it’s not running in theatres nearby now.

    Amit, yeah and one day it will show you the truth. All these botoxed people, what will happen to them at 70? Botox is not effective then as the whole face has wrinkles and suddenly from 30 they will look 80. Probably they could commit suicide!

  24. April 12, 2008 11:36 pm

    Hi Nita,

    I must confess I came to know about this wonderful drug right now while reading your page–at least the brand name if not about the entire concept of beauty enhancement. Thanks for enlightening me.

    This week I happened to meet a beautiful lady of sixty. I am not entitled to ask informal questions about her beauty routines, yet I suspect she must be using this. Or she may not be, for her face is not the only area on her body that is glowing; rather her skin on hands is matchingly smooth.

    On the other hand, she is an extremely contented lady and so I had attributed her youth-like appearance to her inner contentment. So she must not be using the injections.

    Or what could be your guess?

    Nanda
    http://ramblingnanda.blogspot.com
    http://remixoforchid.blogspot.com

  25. April 13, 2008 12:38 am

    The issue is not about the problems you tend to face as you grow older, but about the pleasures you had enjoyed while you were younger. And get addicted to the same and expect to enjoy it eternally. Unfortunately nature does not work in the way science does. Nature expects you to fulfil certain responsibilities at every phase of life. Can also be called duties. The natural occurances are designed for one to expedite these tasks, at various phases of ones life. While Science and capitalism, interestingly seem to advocate the exact reverse. They advocate that as long as you have enough brain and money, you can always have what you want. Since the majority of the people believe in blind faith (called science in the hands of the capitalists), what have I to say? Your case as explained in the post is only an advanced form of this blind faith.

    Destination Infinity.

  26. April 13, 2008 7:40 am

    A. N. Nanda, well it is indeed difficult to say. But if you say her hands too look young you have answered your question! The neck and the hands are usually giveaways. Sure make-up can hide the flaws, but usually ordinary people don’t bother to put makeup on their hands.. If the lady is not in show-biz and is not very rich then the chances are that she is genuinely youthful. And remember that Botox needs to be done very 3 months.
    I know a lot of ladies who look youthful and it is not due to Botox. In fact like Destination Infinity says, leading a happy contented life without messing with nature goes a long way in keeping one healthy and youthful.

  27. April 13, 2008 2:39 pm

    That’s right, Nitaji. I saw the happy countenance of the lady all the while. She was happy because she was going to retire. And unlike other retiring people creeping about the looming worklessness, she was already clear about how she would be spending her retired life. Yes, she would be reading books she had always thought of reading. Quite positive at that! I have everything to be one with Destination Infinity.

    Thanks
    Nanda
    http://ramblingnanda.blogspot.com
    http://remixoforchid.blogspot.com

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