Are We Victims of "Scienceploitation"? New Study Shows Portrayals of Anti-Aging Stem Cell Tech Exploits Science to Market Products

New York, NY (September 30, 2015) – Cosmetic and anti-aging products and treatments that make claims regarding stem cell technology are increasingly popular despite a lack of evidence for either the safety or efficacy of such products. Given the size of the personal care beauty industry, (expected to generate $265 billion by 2017,) and the high-profile nature of stem cell research, this is part of a larger trend whereby the language of newer areas of science is leveraged by marketers. This phenomenon is called “Scienceploitation.”

According to a study published in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal, the official publication of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), authors examined the portrayals of stem cell-based cosmetic and anti-aging products and treatments online and found that the majority of web pages portrayed stem cell-based products as ready for public use. Very few substantiated claims with scientific evidence, and even fewer mentioned any risks or limitations associated with stem cell science.

“Some claims were substantiated by clinical studies, celebrities, so-called beauty experts, and medical professionals with phrases like “the only crème with an actual study” and “this product has been rigorously tested for maximum efficacy,” without explaining the science behind the claims,” explains author and ASAPS member, Dr. Ivona Percec.

 “Despite the state of stem cell science, where only a relatively small number of therapies have moved to clinical application thus far, the cosmetic and beauty industry continues to borrow language from stem cell science research to market unproven products and treatments as ready-to-go, when such is far from the case,” noted Dr. Percec. “There are limitations to stem cell applications. The public should be wary about products labeled as having beneficial stem cell-related properties unless scientifically proven to work.”

To view the complete study, visit the Aesthetic Surgery Journal site.

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About the Aesthetic Surgery Journal

Aesthetic Surgery Journal is a peer-reviewed international journal focusing on scientific developments and clinical techniques in aesthetic surgery. An official publication of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), ASJ is also the official English-language journal of many major international societies of plastic, aesthetic and reconstructive surgery representing South America, Central America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. It is also the official journal of Canadian Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery and The Rhinoplasty Society.

ASJ was indexed with MEDLINE/PubMed in 2008 and covered by the Thomson Reuters’ Journal Citation Report since 2011. ASJ’s current Impact Factor is 1.841. In the 2015 JCR, ASJ ranked 82nd out of 198 journals in the overall surgery category. ASJ is presently ranked #1 among all aesthetic surgery journals and #2 among all plastic surgery journals.

ABOUT The Aesthetic Society

The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, is recognized as the world's leading organization devoted entirely to aesthetic plastic surgery and cosmetic medicine of the face and body. The Aesthetic Society is comprised of over 2,600 Plastic Surgeons; Active Members are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (USA) or by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and have extensive training in the complete spectrum of surgical and nonsurgical aesthetic procedures. International Active Members are certified by equivalent boards of their respective countries. All members worldwide adhere to a strict Code of Ethics and must meet stringent membership requirements.


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