The Modern Fountain of Youth

     Look younger, feel younger, hang on to your youth. You can't turn on the TV, open a magazine, or log on to the Internet without getting bombarded by the latest anti-aging gadget. One Rhode Island doctor says he's found the key to staying young.

     It is the eternal quest: The search for the fountain of youth. 11-thousand people each day turn 50-years old. 50 percent of the population is over 50. Try as we might, no one can escape getting old.

     “It's like the cycle of a leaf. They naturally bloom and then they shrivel, dry, and disappear,” is how Doctor Okosun Edoro explains the aging process.

     “So, are you calling older women shrively?”asked ABC6's own Shannon O'Brien.

     Edoro laughed and said, “No. Far from it. I don't want to get in trouble.”

     Doctor Okosun Edoro is one of few doctors in Rhode Island who specializes in anti-aging medicine. He says the key to aging, or not, is hormones.

     “It's normal for the hormones to decline because nature as we know is very selfish. Its primary desire is for the species to continue procreation. So once it has achieved that goal, it literally pulls the plug,” said Edoro.

     In some women, hormone levels start to change as young as 30 years old. In men, they change at 25. And once that plug is pulled, it can have a devastating effect on a person's quality of life.

     “At this time last year, I was irritable, tired and I gained 25 pounds,” said Pam Sheer.

     When Sheer began suffering from the symptoms of menopause, she went to her gynecologist for help.

     “She basically said 'too bad,' but at 54-years young, I was not going to accept that answer.”

     When she found Doctor Edoro, “It was like a miracle for me.”

     That miracle is bioidentical hormones. “The reason we call it 'bioidentical' is because the substance is exactly the way it occurs in the body,” explained David Hughes, a pharmacist Phusion RX in Coventry, who makes bioidentical hormone medication.

     Pharmaceutical companies have been pumping out synthetic hormones since the 1960s. Since then, there has been great controversy about their safety. Studies have shown a link to cancer and heart disease in both men and women. They claim the hormones are altered to improve absorption, but industry insiders say there is a more sinister reason.

     “When it comes down to the hormones, a lot of the motivation as to why there are so many synthetic products out there was around patentability,” said Hughes.

     “Money?” asked O'Brien.

      “Money, yes.”

     Pharmaceutical companies cannot patent naturally occurring substances, so they alter them.

     “With today's technology, we are able to customize dosages for patients [to] really bring back their hormones as they occur in the body to the levels they would normally be in a patient that may be younger,” Hughes explained.

     “You were on a medicine for your thyroid 20, 30 years ago,” said Lori Murphy, who had a thyroid condition. She says since starting the bioidentical hormone therapy, it's as if a fog has been lifted.

     “So what has it meant for your life?” O'Brien wanted to know.

     Sheer responded, “I feel like a different person. I come here and I want to kiss them.”

     The drugs are mixed with lotion. “So say we had 30 ml of progesterone, per ml, it would simply be 4 clicks. One, two, three, four,” said Hughes, demonstrating how the lotion container works.

     Then, the user applies it to the skin. “We wouldn't usually apply hormone to the hand. Normally, we do it to the back of the arm, inner thigh, or the abdomen.”

     “I'm not taking my clothes off for that,” O'Brien joked.

     Making the medication is expensive and time consuming. “First, I mix the hormone on this slab and send it through the mill. After I mill the hormones or drug, through the mill. It reduces particle size so it gets absorbed into the skin.”

     Hughes says this method is safer than taking a pill because it bypasses the liver, cutting down on complications such as blood clots.

     “So, is this the fountain of youth?” asked O'Brien.

     “Well, I wouldn't say it's the fountain of youth as Ponce de Leon meant it, but it makes people feel better,” said Hughes.

     One woman who used the lotion raved, “After being on this cream for two weeks, I got my life back.”

     Although bioidentical hormones are shown to be a safer alternative to traditional hormone replacement, there are risks with any sort of medication. Be sure to check with your doctor before starting this sort of therapy.

     If you're looking to try out the bioidentical hormone treatment, you can go to Phusion RX in Coventry. Their website is http://phusionrx.com. The pharmacy can also be reached at 401-823-0000.