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Leave pill's claims to sci-fi pages

September 01, 2008

The Times' article on Juvenon, despite weak caveats, is presented tantalizingly to the general public [β€œNew Life for Aging Cells?,” Aug. 25].

The article's background comments about free radicals and mitochondrial malfunction having a detrimental role in cellular aging are probably correct, but unproven is the implication that that commercial product is therefore clinically beneficial. There is no cited peer-reviewed report, published in a reputable medical journal, of a placebo-controlled long-term study of that pill, in the company-recommended doses, demonstrating its efficacy for "aging" or anything else, in humans.

Basing the article's secondary headline, "Pill boosts memory in mice," on an unpublished "upcoming paper," as stated by a person who has written another article with the company founder, is journalistically inappropriate. Fountains of youth still sell, but the L.A. Times should not abet that.

W. K. Engel, M.D.

Professor of Neurology and Pathology, USC Keck School of Medicine

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