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Book Review

Spring Chicken

is a wonderfully entertaining and

meticulously researched guide book into the world of

anti-aging science – and mankind’s oldest obsession:

“What can be done about getting old?”

Veteran reporter Bill Gifford was already working on

a book about aging when his beloved dog Theo died

unexpectedly and prematurely. His grief and outrage

over this sudden loss pushed Gifford into passionate

overdrive. He decided to approach aging as a reportorial

investigation, and almost a personal vendetta. He decided

that he wanted to know


about the universal

aging process that stole his dog and was robbing him of

his youth.

In his trademark funny, self-deprecatory style, Gifford

takes us along on his reportorial journeys, from cutting-

edge labs in which scientists are working to achieve

medical breakthroughs to reverse the effects of aging, to

glitzy conventions of ‘gurus’ who are intent on making

fortunes selling ‘cures’ for these same effects of aging – i.e.

Human Growth Hormone (HGH) shots, supplements,

gadgets and potions. Gifford’s personal favourite was an

herbal supplement, supposedly derived from Chinese

medicine, called “Virgin Again.”

The keynote speaker at this convention in Orlando was

the 65-year-old, blonde Suzanne Somers of ‘Chrissy’ fame

(on TV’s

Three’s Company

). Somers has evolved into a

very popular health guru and author of more than 20

bestselling books dealing with her own demons of age.

She is still advocating aggressive hormone replacement

therapy for her readers, even though such treatments have

been professionally declared to be unsafe.

Suzanne also attributes daily injections of HGH to

explain her youthful appearance and takes pride in her

sex drive. She brags to embarrassed TV hosts that she

and her 80-something husband get frisky twice a day,

every day. Despite criticism, the

indomitable Somers just “keeps

on, keeping on” – determined to

last until she’s at least 106.


Spring Chicken

, Gifford also

covers the really big story of the

last century…the lengthening

of the human lifespan all over

the world. Graphs charted

by demographers show that

beginning in about 1840, “every

four years, humans have steadily

gained an extra year of potential

life expectancy. So, if 60 is the

new 40, then 95 might be the new

80.” The life expectancy picture

isn’t all rosy, though. A recent

JAMA (Journal of the American

Medical Association) report

concludes that “the baby boomer

generation is the first in centuries that has turned out to be

less healthy than their parents, thanks largely to diabetes,

poor diet and general physical laziness.” For these folks,

60 is not the new 40; 40 is the new 60.

There are, as yet, no methods to predict why some people

live to 100 in good health and mental state, while their

contemporaries have already died, or are extremely

disabled. Gifford does provide some comfort to the

informed, however: “How well you grow old is at least

partially under your control. Two of the major diseases of

aging – cardiovascular disease and diabetes – are largely

avoidable, and even reversible, in some cases. A third,

the dreaded Alzheimer’s disease, may be up to 50 per

cent preventable.”

This is an important book, so read it and pass it on. Enjoy,

and may all of you snowbirds, “Stay Young Forever.”

Willa McLean

is a

freelance writer who

lives in Brampton.

Spring Chicken

Stay Young Forever (Or Die Trying)

By Bill Gifford

Grand Central Publishing, $30



FALL 2015