Saturday, October 13, 2007

Yes, I Have Wrinkles

Recently I looked in the mirror and discovered that I am a prune face. There for the world to see are wrinkles on my forehead, lines around my eyes and a giant valley between my brows. When did this happen? I know I am in my later 40’s, but this? Luckily, we live in a wonder age, where every flaw is curable by a nip, tuck, needle or ointment. Could Botox be the answer? The ads say it is safe, simple, painless and quick, the perfect combination to eradicate my facial roadmap.

Still of sound mind, I thought it wise to at least Google Botox and get an idea of the process and the cost. The Allergan, Inc FDA product sheet was one of the first sites to come up. Allergan is the manufacturer of Botox Cosmetic sold in the United States. I learned that Botox Cosmetic is botulism mixed with saline and albumin, a human blood derivative. This should prove interesting since botulism is one of the most toxic substances known to man.
Allergan performs testing on the albumin component; however, certain viruses and Creutzfeldt - Jakob disease are not detectable. Disconcerting? It should be since Creutzfeldt - Jakob disease is non-curable and strikingly similar to “mad cow” disease. Somehow, I am not feeling comfortable about the prospect of paralyzing facial muscles with this stuff.

So the human blood component is tested, but what out the botulism component? Allergan’s product sheet indicates that all of its Botox Cosmetic is potency tested using the LD50 test. Sounds impressive enough, but what exactly is an LD50 test?

LD50 potency testing is not fully explained in Allergan’s material. Google to the rescue! LD50 testing for potency means that Botox Cosmetic cannot be shipped until 51 of 100 mice injected with the Botox concoction die. Worse, the mice suffer horribly before they die. Botulism is a paralyzing agent. It acts on neurotransmitters to stop muscles from working. During the three to four days before their deaths, the test mice muscles start to paralyze, their vision becomes impaired, and finally their diaphragm is paralyzed, breathing becomes impossible. They slowly suffocate and die. Is this 2007 or the dark ages?

This is not Botox used for life saving, this is a cosmetic, albeit an expensive cosmetic since it costs about one thousand dollars for a treatment that only lasts three to four months. I am almost afraid to read how Botox Cosmetic was safety tested for FDA approval.

FDA approval testing was conducted on animals and humans. The animal testing is gruesome. To determine whether Botox Cosmetic is safe for pregnant women, pregnant bunnies were injected with Botox. Like the mice in the potency tests, the bunnies suffered as they slowly died from paralysis of their diaphragm. Their babies were removed and dissected. According to Allergan, the babies were severely malformed or miscarried. My first question is what sane pregnant woman is considering taking a risk by injecting the most powerful natural toxin into her face? My next question is, why, as a society are we allowing companies to do painful and deadly testing on animals so humans can have less wrinkles for three or four months?

Allergan’s product sheet states that human testing resulted in 49% of the subjects reporting adverse reactions. Most complained of irritation at the injection sites, headaches and bruising. However, there is a frightening list of potential complications including sudden death, myocardial infarction and arrhythmias. It is unknown whether pre-existing cardiac conditions play a role.

Instead of considering Botox as the answer to my wrinkling problems, I am perplexed. I cannot think of one good reason to inject Botox Cosmetic into my face. How can this be the most popular cosmetic procedure in the United States? Hasn’t anyone checked Botox Cosmetic out?

Do the celebrity Botox users and their wannabes know that animals are tortured so they can have fewer wrinkles? Maybe Botox froze their eyeballs so they cannot read the Allergan FDA product sheet. Maybe they don’t care.

When did we become such a vain people that we willingly inject paralyzing agents into our body? When did our society become so callous that it would allow animals, even the lowly mouse and bunny, to be tormented for cosmetic purposes?

Hundreds of millions of dollars are made on Botox Cosmetic. Have we become gullible or just numb when it comes to claims made by large companies? If I could find out about Botox Cosmetic with just a quick Google search, why haven’t the tens of thousands of its users done the same?

How did baby boomers go from the Age of Aquarius to Frankenstein? Where did our ethics go? I grew up believing that we would change the world. Peace, compassion and equality were the boomer’s mantra. We cared about the environment, our fellow humans and even lowly animals like mice and bunnies. My wrinkled prune face might suggest that I have grown up, but my heart and brain long for the values we cared about when we were young. I do not care if my face is wrinkled. After reading the truth about Botox Cosmetic, I will wear my wrinkles proudly.

On the other hand, maybe I will just grow some bangs.

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