CLINICAL CASES ARE CITED
Elderly Men Regain Youthful Appearance, Grow More Hair and Do More Work.
It is indeed possible by means of a simple operation to ward off senility and to prolong the useful life of the individual at a moment when certain gland functions tend to end, said Dr. Harry Benjamin, a New York endocrinologist, in a paper entitled, “Preliminary Communication Regarding Steinach’s Method of Rejuvenation,” which he read last Wednesday night at the Academy of Medicine, 17 West Forty-third Street.
Dr. Benjamin returned recently from Vienna, where he investigated the work of Dr. Eugene Steinach, Director of the Biological Institute of the Academy of Sciences in that city, and was authorized by Dr. Steinach to report his findings to the medical profession in this country. The report was said to be the first authentic communication on Steinach’s discovery to be placed before the medical fraternity in this country by an American who studied under Dr. Steinach.
Clinical cases which Dr. Benjamin said had come under his personal observation showed that senility and premature senility had been influenced by the operation. He told of cases where men whose memory was beginning to fail had found their memory restored, their sight strengthened and had gained weight as well as physical and mental vitality after the operation. The growth of pigmented hair was another effect of the operation, he said.
As described by Dr. Benjamin the operation is a minor one consisting of the incision of the skin of the lower abdomen and the ligating or binding of a canal which he called vaso-ligature. The result of the operation is that an important gland necessary for the maintenance of mental and physical strength is stimulated. Senility, he said, is due to the cessation of the functioning of this gland and the operation discovered by Dr. Steinbach, by causing its renewed activity, is instrumental in preventing senility or in banishing it after it had set in.
No Foreign Secretions Used.
By the Steinach method the patient does not receive the gland secretion of a monkey or any foreign substance, but his own glandular activity is revived and strengthened.
The results obtained by Dr. Steinach in cases of senility, especially premature senility “ have indeed been sometimes so remarkable that they could most accurately be described as ‘rejuvenation,’ “ said Dr. Benjamin. However, he thought the word “rejuvenation” had not been wisely selected because of the possibility of exaggeration and thought perhaps a better description of the operation might be to call it a “surgical retarding of senility”.
Among the cases that came under his observation, said Dr. Benjamin, were the following:
A man 51 years old complained of exhaustion, mental and physical, upon the least exertion, also pains of an arteriosclerotic nature, failing memory and an inability to work. The operation was performed on Oct. 16, 1920. Two and a half months later the patient’s complaints disappeared. He gained weight, and noticed a distinct improvement in his sight. Six months after the operation he “looked surprisingly youthful, carrying himself more erect and was entirely free of any complaints and entered a new business venture.”
In May, 1921, following the operation, the patient wrote that his general condition was further improved, “the formerly unbearable pains in my back, muscle twitchings, difficulty in breathing, have disappeared.” He was free from attacks of vertigo as well as mental depression and said he had gained ten pounds in the previous three months and looked forward with pleasure to his daily work instead of disgust.
Looked Like a Man of 40.
In June, 1921, the man was observed, said Dr. Benjamin, and his appearance was that of a man of 40. He gained an additional two pounds. On July 26, 1921, more than eight months after the operation, he informed his physician that his condition continued to improve.
Another case was of a building contractor, 47 years old, who complained of his inability to do any physical work. He used to fall asleep in his chair, and his memory was failing rapidly. In spite of better nourishment for two years after the war he lost fifty pounds. He was unable to earn his living. The physical examination showed “an emaciated aged man with tired facial expression, hair gray on temples, hands and ears cyanotic and cold.” The case was diagnosed as premature senility and “beginning arteriosclerosis.”
The operation was performed Feb. 7, 1921. A month later the patient said he could count the tiles on the roof opposite. Five weeks previously they had been a blurred mass. “I am feeling as well as in former years,” he said. “My mind is clear, the tiredness has disappeared. I can work as before.”
On April 4, 1921, he reported that his appetite was good and that he slept well. April 15 the examination showed that the man’s improvement continued and that he looked young for a man of 47. He was then working daily in the fields from 4 A.M. to 6 P.M.
In June, four months after the operation, the man reported that his improvement continued and said he had re-established himself in his work as building contractor on a large scale.
Better in Two Weeks.
A packer 54 years old reported that he had consulted physicians for “air hunger and pains between the shoulder blades.” He was in great financial distress, could not work and had continuous pains in back and lumbar region. The physical examination showed “an emaciated, senile man with tired, depressed face, hair mixed red and white.” The operation was performed in the latter part of April, 1921. Two weeks later the patient said he felt better. In June he reported an increase in weight and that he read without glasses. He slept well and obtained work as a night watchman. On June 23 his painful attacks had ceased. Three months after the operation the man’s hair, which was formerly of mixed color and thin, had grown thicker and coarser.
A young man, technician, 34 years old, was operated on in May, 1921, and in July his bald head was thickly covered with fine hair. His barber first called his attention to it, and Dr. Benjamin said he confirmed it, as well as Dr. Peter Schmidt of Berlin, who performed the operation.
Continuing his discourse Dr. Benjamin said that whether a prolongation of life was obtainable was impossible to say. Thus far, he added, none of the successful cases have come to a second senility or have died, except of current diseases, like pneumonia. But judging from the cases in hand he was able to say that man’s working and creative life could, in many instances, be prolonged. Many cases were so improved after the operation that Dr. Benjamin felt the word rejuvenation could best describe the effect.
The speaker said that the case of a Mr. Wilson, who died in London on the eve of a lecture he was to have given, reciting his own experiences after the operation, was unfairly used against Dr. Steinach. He said he was in a position to state that Mr. Wilson was one of Dr. Steinach’s most successful cases. and that he died of acute pneumonia.
Dr. Benjamin Sounds a Warning.
Dr. Benjamin sounded a warning “against too great an enthusiasm and against raising too many hopes,” recalling that Dr. Steinach’s own words were “that within modest limits the process of becoming senile can be influenced.”
The principle used by Dr. Steinach in the case of men may be applied to women, the doctor said, but the surgical procedure is not followed, the X-ray being used instead. The clinical experience in women’s cases is not as complete as that of men.
Dr. Benjamin was of the opinion that the Steinbach discovery was one of the most scientifically founded, as well as one of the most promising applications of endocrinological principles. By proper application he felt the discovery would be of great benefit to the individual as well as to society.
It was reported that several prominent physicians took part in the discussion which followed the presentation of the paper and expressed themselves in favor of the Steinbach method.
The New York Times
November 20, 1921