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Celebrities Quietly Paying Huge Amounts for Anti-Aging Stem Cell Therapy That May Cause Gruesome Side Effects

Celebrities Quietly Paying Huge Amounts for Anti-Aging Stem Cell Therapy That May Cause Gruesome Side Effects
Celebrities Quietly Paying Huge Amounts for Anti-Aging Stem Cell Therapy That May Cause Gruesome Side Effects

Image by Getty / Futurism

Age is just a number. Or, in the era of immortality-obsessed elites, it’s just the number of bizarre, supposedly youth-preserving stem cell treatments you can afford.

One celebrity to recently come clean about their use of these experimental treatments is British actor and comedian John Cleese. In an interview with Saga Magazine, the 84-year-old revealed that for the past two decades, he’s been spending around £17,000 — the equivalent of about $21,000 — a year on a private stem cell therapy to stave off aging.

Sure, the Monty Python co-creator is looking pretty good for his age. But experts warn that not only are the purported benefits of these therapies unproven, they may even be outright damaging to our bodies, possibly leading to gruesome outcomes like cancer.

The private clinics that provide these treatments, they warn, operate in “regulatory gray zones” in countries like the US and Switzerland — where Cleese gets his treatment — preying on the public’s lack of understanding on the science behind the technology.

“These clinics may be operating outside of regulatory oversight and scientific collaboration, and do not publish the protocols or outcomes of what they are doing to patients that pay for their services,” Anna Couturier at the European Consortium for Communicating Gene and Cell Therapy Information (EuroGCT) told The Telegraph.

Of course, there’s a reason that stem cells have their reputation as a miracle of science. Not only are they remarkably good at renewing themselves, the so-called “pluripotent” ones are capable of developing into virtually any kind of cell in the human body. They’re basically jacks of all trades, and it’s these properties make them ideal for regenerating damaged or even lost tissue.

Perhaps one day advances in this field will let us regrow limbs like frogs. Even now, stem cells already have a well established use in treating leukemia patients by being transplanted into diseased bone marrow.

“You’re looking to get rid of the disease and then replace the blood system with some fresh stem cells,” Jon Frampton, a stem cell biologist at the University of Birmingham, told The Telegraph. “It’s tried and tested and proven to work.”

Things get shady beyond these limited proven uses, though. Some anti-aging treatments purport to make you look younger by replenishing the collagen in your face despite there being limited evidence to support them — and the potential downsides don’t sound worth the risk.

“If put into the wrong context without the right prompts and cues, stem cells do what they’re capable of doing but in a very random way,” Frampton told The Telegraph. “You can get a tumor called a teratoma, because the stem cells grow a lot and form a lump.”

There’s also considerable risks about the way these stem cells are administered.

“If the product is not sterile, it can lead to inflammation and, in worst case scenarios, septic shock,” Darius Widera, a professor of stem cell biology and regenerative medicine at the University of Reading, told The Telegraph.  “Many patients have been harmed by these gray zone clinics.”

It’s not that stem cells can’t live up to the sky high potential we’ve predicted for them. But we should be skeptical about rushing to use them in these dubious, supposedly age-defying applications. Whatever your anxieties about getting old, it’s best to let the science catch up first.

More on stem cells: Scientists Grow Teeny Tiny Testicles in Laboratory

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