Police officers in New Jersey don’t have to look very hard to find a source of anabolic steroids. It’s all right there in the pages of a magazine written just for law enforcement.
“We’ve found the fountain of youth!” shouts an advertisement in the December issue of New Jersey COPS, a publication read by officers across the state. “Would you like to be able to lose fat, gain muscle, recover faster from physical activity, and possess the sex drive you had in your twenties?”
The full-page ad, one of two hawking hormone replacement therapy, features the image of a shirtless man with thunderous biceps, a sculpted chest and fist-size abs that bulge through bronzed skin.
As an added incentive, a text label proclaims, “Special Discount for Law Enforcement.”
The phone number leads to an answering machine without a message. The address, on Route 10 in Whippany, leads to the Fountain of Youth Anti-Aging Center and Signature Health and Wellness Center, two distinct but affiliated firms that share a small office connected to a gym.
There you’ll find Tom Boorujy, a licensed chiropractor and Signature’s owner, who explains why it was a simple decision to place an ad in a magazine for law enforcement officers.
“From what we heard, there were a lot of cops doing it, so we thought, ‘Let’s market it to that demographic,’” Boorujy said.
Strong at Any Cost
Boorujy said the clinic indefinitely suspended the hormone aspect of the business and stopped advertising last week, after a series of Star-Ledger reports on the use of anabolic steroids by law enforcement officers and firefighters. The anti-aging clinic’s founder, Michael Villani, declined to discuss the operation.
“We are closed because of the fact the article came out,” Boorujy said. “There’s scrutiny.”
That scrutiny has come from lawmakers in both houses of the Legislature and from state Attorney General Paula Dow, who impaneled a task force to investigate the extent of steroid use in law enforcement and the role of doctors who liberally prescribe the drugs. The committee also will examine the possibility of adding anabolic steroids to the list of substances for which law enforcement officers are randomly tested.
Separately, several police departments have launched internal investigations based on The Star-Ledger reports.
The newspaper found at least 248 officers and firefighters from 53 agencies obtained anabolic steroids and other hormones through a Jersey City doctor, Joseph Colao, who often faked diagnoses and illegally sold growth hormone on the side. Colao has since died, but The Star-Ledger found many of his patients continued their treatments with other anti-aging doctors.
The officers and firefighters paid for the prescriptions with their taxpayer-funded health benefits in most, if not all, cases, running up a bill in the millions of dollars, the newspaper found.
In his Whippany clinic, Boorujy said he’s done nothing wrong, noting that in the few weeks the anti-aging center was in operation, clients paid out of their own pockets, not with insurance. And he said he didn’t prescribe steroids or other hormones himself.
That was left to a gastroenterologist, Alfred Helwig III, the Fountain of Youth’s medical supervisor.
Helwig, who has a medical office in Millburn, called the clinic an “above-board” facility and said he doesn’t prescribe drugs without physical exams and bloodwork.
He said he also refuses to prescribe human growth hormone, which is tightly restricted, or notorious body-building drugs such as stanozolol and nandrolone, often sold under the brand name Deca-Durabolin. The physician said he will recommend testosterone creams if blood levels show a deficiency.
“This is cosmetic,” Helwig said. “All women have breasts, but some want bigger ones. This is elective. This is like joining a gym.”
Asked if there was a risk in treating police officers with a drug that has been linked, in some cases, to increased aggression and recklessness, Helwig responded, “Postal workers can go postal, too. I wouldn’t make any assumptions.”
He said he expects the center to remain on hold while the state investigates.
“It’s prudent to see if any new laws are going to be passed,” Helwig said.
A more established clinic advertising in New Jersey COPS magazine goes by the name Global Life Extension. Affiliated with Denville Medical & Sports Rehabilitation Center on Route 53 in Denville, Global Life has been in operation for several years.
Global Life’s ad, showing a chiseled man and a lean, toned woman, calls hormone replacement one of the “essentials” — along with exercise and proper nutrition — for “optimal health and longevity.” The ad contends testosterone and human growth hormone can help reverse aging-related damage to the body.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration rejects such claims, noting on its website that testosterone and growth hormone are not approved for anti-aging medicine or athletic enhancement.
Global Life’s ad also says “many” adults over 35 experience the symptoms of adult growth hormone deficiency. According to the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, adult growth hormone deficiency legitimately affects one in 100,000 people annually.
A woman who answered the phone at Global Life Extension declined to comment, and requests to speak to a doctor at Denville Medical were denied.
Global Life’s website carries an extensive disclaimer stating hormone treatment will not be provided unless a “clinical need” exists.
“Our doctors will not prescribe for anti-aging, body building, or performance enhancement of any kind,” the disclaimer says, adding that the clinic’s physicians also won’t treat anyone under 30.
New Jersey COPS publisher Mitch Krugel said he take no issue with the advertisers, noting a printed disclaimer states the magazine doesn’t endorse any products or claims made in ads. “As long as it’s not illegal,” Krugel said.
The magazine, with a circulation of 52,000, reaches most officers in New Jersey, Krugel said. About half of its circulation comes through paid subscriptions. Bundles also are distributed to police departments, where officers may take copies for free.
Krugel confirmed the Fountain of Youth Anti-Aging Center canceled future ads. The center’s first spot ran in the November issue, he said.
Though Krugel doesn’t have a problem with them, the ads don’t sit well with Anthony Wieners, president of the New Jersey State Policemen’s Benevolent Association, which represents about 33,000 law enforcement officers across the state.
“I think we should look at how we’re being marketed,” Wieners said. “We have to go to the root of the problem.”