Saturday, December 20, 2003

Enhancing your body

David had surgery this week, and so far he is OK. See A Day at the Hospital for details. Being in a hospital waiting room leaves you with lots of time to read magazines. I coincidentally read two very different articles on enhancing your body.

The first was in Outside magazine. Entitled Drug Test, it is an account of one man's experiences with performance enhancing drugs. Under a doctor's supervision, he takes:According to the author:Then he started on an anabolic steroid called Deca. He dropped 6 pounds of fat and acquired 12 pounds of muscle. And it helped with joint pain.

He trains and is able to complete a 1,225 kilometer ride (over 700 miles). He says, "The next morning, if it weren't for my saddle sores, I could have easily done it again. Obviously Dr. Jones's program had worked."

I forgot to mention that he's in his late forties.

After the ride he stops all of the enhancement drugs. In his assessment, he would continue taking the HGH "if it weren’t so expensive". He would continue with the testosterone cream to avoid problems encountered by older athletes with osteoporosis when testosterone levels get too low. He would not take the EPO or the anabolic steroids because of the side effects.

After reading that I switched over to Time magazine, where they had an article entitled After the Makeover. It's about several people who appeared on the show Extreme Makeover and how they did long-term. The plastic surgery enhancements on Extreme Makeover cost as much as $80,000. The interesting part about the article is the fact that superficial changes to outer appearance had significant long-term effects. Even something as simple as hair color and a hair cut makes a difference.

There is a very interesting paragraph at the end of the article:This all meshes with the recent push to declare obesity a disease -- once it is a disease, then its treatment can be covered by health insurance. The reasoning behind the new designation is simple, as noted in articles like this one:The $120 billion is coming from the cost of treating things like high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes. Obesity has a huge negative effect on health and quality of life, and it will only get worse. Right now there is way too much economic pressure to make people fatter, and we need to find a solution to that pressure.

If we can declare obesity a disease, can we do the same with ugliness and aging? They certainly affect quality of life, and in the case of aging there is certainly a big health effect. Should HGH supplements be provided to everyone over 40? Should plastic surgery be universally available to everyone?

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