January 16, 2007
Growth Hormone Bad Anti-Aging Bet

Older folks who are taking growth hormone aren't doing themselves any favors.

PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 16, 2007 -- A review of published data on use of human growth hormone (GH) by healthy elderly people found that the synthetic hormone was associated with small changes in body composition but not in body weight or other clinically important outcomes.

Further, people who took GH had increased rates of unhealthy side effects such as soft tissue swelling, joint pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and, in men, abnormal breast development. They were also somewhat more likely to develop diabetes.

The review, "The Safety and Efficacy of Growth Hormone in the Healthy Elderly," was published in the Jan. 16, 2007, issue of Annals of Internal Medicine and is available on the Web at www.annals.org on that day.

"Growth hormone has been widely promoted as an anti-aging therapy," said Hau Liu, MD, a research fellow in endocrinology and health policy at Stanford University and an author of the review.

"But the scant clinical experience of GH in the healthy elderly suggests that although GH may minimally alter body composition, it does not improve other clinically relevant outcomes such as bone density, cholesterol levels, stamina, and longevity in this population.

"And it's associated with high rates of adverse events.

"So, on the basis of available evidence, we cannot recommend growth hormone use for anti-aging in the healthy elderly."

Growth hormone always struck me as a bad idea for rejuvenation. It is about growth and we can't go on growing in size. If higher hormone levels could extend life then selective pressures would likely have caused humans to make more hormones in their old age. But lower hormone levels probably reduce the risk that aged cells will get too stimulated and go cancerous.

We need gene therapies, cell therapies and replacement organs to reverse the accumulated damage that comes with age. Hormones aren't going to do it.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2007 January 16 09:32 PM  Aging Drugs

Maetenloch said at January 17, 2007 5:35 PM:

Don't let the name fool you - growth hormone should really be called Growth&Healing hormone since it's main effect in adults is to promote repair and healing. It remains high throughout a person's 20s even though all bones and organs have reached their maximum size. It's been popular in bodybuilding and athletic circles for over two decades. The concensus is that it is an effective drug for adding additional muscle and lowering body fat (particularly for those over 30 y.o). However its effects are subtle when compared to testosterone and other anabolic steroids. However unlike most steroids, it is considered very good at promoting healing and speeding up recovery from injuries (or just intense workouts). I know of one athlete in his 50's who was on doctor-prescribed HGH and had to undergo a hernia repair. His surgeon commented afterwards that he had never in his practice seen anyone recover from that surgery as quickly as he did. Anecdotal, but a fairly common experience among athete users. The side effects mentioned in the article are typical for new users, but are almost always temporary. Usually reducing the dose for a week or two and then slowly ramping back up is enough to prevent their recurrence.

Personally I've used growth hormone before. I'm 38 so I should see a definite benefit from it. I took 3iu/day for six months. The effects were fairly subtle and I didn't have any side effects. I slept better, and lost some body fat. I did seem to recover from my workouts faster and my facial skin seemed smoother. It's possible that any of these was just a placebo effect, but overall I did feel better. I think it is a worthwhile drug as long you adjust your expectations and don't expect an elixer of youth. The only reason I'm not currently taking it is due to its high cost.

Still No Taller said at January 18, 2007 12:09 AM:

I was diagnosed five years ago with a benign pituitary microadenoma (a benign pea-sized tumor inside the pituitary gland), which was causing pretty severe chronic fatigue. All the usual causes of chronic fatigue were ruled out or offset with medication (depression, diabetes, thyroid disfunction, anemia, elevated cholesterol, etc and so forth), and I take all the vitamins and nutraceuticals that might possibly improve my energy picture. Nonetheless, without daily injections of human growth hormone I am about as functional -- mentally and physically -- as a senile lump of stone. With the injections I range between 50-75% of normal, so long as I get a 2 hour nap at least every other day. We demonstrated this conclusively by taking me off the stuff until it had cleared my system, ie about 5 months, the last two months of which I was pretty close to non-functional. Within days of restarting treatment I was once again able to hold conversations and cook dinner for my family (so long as they cleaned the kitchen afterward).

Apparently the growth hormone triggers production of a variety of other hormones necessary for metabolic function. Do I look younger than my 45 years? I don't think so, neither in face nor figure, although despite five years spent entirely too much in the horizontal, I've still got pretty good muscle tone. But I'm functioning as a wife and mother, if no longer on the board of the PTA, and for that I am grateful.

Doug said at January 23, 2007 11:25 AM:

If you take human growth hormone without first normalizing serum 25-hydroxy-vitamin-D3, you surely have the cart before the horse, in terms of health and also expense. Do as I say, not as I did initially. :-)

James said at November 15, 2010 2:23 AM:

This is a very informative article, keep the great blogs coming!

Gil said at November 22, 2010 9:32 AM:

HGH cycled correctly from a doctor can improve those who are 50+, and if these people were keeping there body healthy before this point. I think we can extend people's lives by using it but who knows? once we get socialized health care we can all get shot up, YEEEAAAAHHHHH

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