Baby Boomers Buying Body Parts to Stay Young
Aired August 25, 2003 - 08:43 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: More and more baby boomers looking for medical procedures that try and turn back the clock. Things like Botox. And now some think they need surgery so they can keep up with their athletic activities. Talk about the weekend warrior here. Is it entirely wise? For answers today, our medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen joins us from the CNN Center. Sanjay has vacation this week.
Good morning, Elizabeth.
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Bill.
Bill, you mentioned weekend warriors. Well, some of those weekend warriors who are now this their 40s and 50s, well they're used to doing very tough activities. They're used to playing basketball, they're used to running on the treadmill, doing high-impact step aerobics like you see here.
And they say, Hey, I did it at 20 and 30, why not continue at 40 and 50? Well, their bodies might not agree. Some of them are finding their parts are wearing out and they want new parts. They're going to the doctor and saying, Doc, give me a new shoulder, give me a new knee, give me a new hip.
And many hospitals and doctors are more than happy to oblige. In fact, these hospitals and doctors are advertising that they're doing these kinds of procedures, and the ads are aimed directly at baby boomers. Here's one. You can see this pop-up add in the upper left- hand corner. You go to this Web site and they say, Hey, look at this procedure that we can do for you.
But some other doctors are saying, Wait a second. Sometimes these weekend warriors really do need these kinds of procedures, and they really do need surgery, but other people shouldn't get surgery. What they should do is change their lifestyle. They say they should avoid high-impact activities.
For example, they should avoid basketball. They should avoid running, tennis, racquetball, baseball. Avoid those kinds of things. They might have fun earlier in life, but not everyone can keep doing that in their 40s and 50s, and instead go to low-impact activities. For example, some low-impact activities might be stretching, swimming, water aerobics, cycling, walking and golf. Those are a lot easier on the body.
Now, it was interesting. I was talking to a doctor about this story and he said, You know, don't tell anyone I'm saying this, but doctors make a lot of money off of these surgeries. And so some doctors will say, Yes, let's go in and replace your knee instead of saying, Let's do physical therapy or let's change your lifestyle. And patients need to keep that in mind that these surgeries are very lucrative for doctors.
HEMMER: So if you're saying no to low-impact, if you're no to surgery, what then?
COHEN: Right. Some people say I don't like golf, I don't like yoga, I don't want to do anything of those things. But I also don't want to have surgery, there are risks involved. Well there are other things you can think about doing.
For example, I mentioned physical therapy. You can think about going into physical therapy. Also there's certain medications you can take. There's a supplement called glucosamine that some doctors recommend. Steroid injections are another option. Also there mechanical aids such as bandages and braces. And sometime people have success with those.
HEMMER: Yes, you mentioned body parts possibly wearing out, that certainly could be an obvious answer here. But are there other explanations that may be offered here when you talk about the aging population, trying to stay fit and active?
COHEN: There are other explanations, Bill. Sometimes people do things to their bodies. Let's say even at age 15, let's say they're a Little League pitcher and they've been throwing curveballs over and over. Well they didn't feel it when they were 15, but that same injury can really be meaningful when they're 50, it can really become a problem when they're 50.
So sometimes it's things they did a long time ago that didn't show up then but are showing up now.
HEMMER: Thanks, Elizabeth. Good to have you. See you again tomorrow.
COHEN: Thanks. See you.
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