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Human Growth Hormone Abuse Raises Serious Health Risks, Endocrine Society Warns Congress
— Human growth hormone (HGH), when medically necessary, is a safe
and effective clinical treatment for children and adults. When
abused, however, HGH can pose serious health risks.
before the U.S. House of Representatives Government Reform Committee
on behalf of The Endocrine Society, Dr. Alan Rogol outlined the
legitimate medical uses of HGH and the serious health consequences
surrounding its abuse by athletes, celebrities, and those hoping
to find a way to combat the effects of aging.
a number of safe and legitimate FDA-approved uses of growth hormone
in adults and children,” said Dr. Rogol. “The off-label use of
growth hormone, which primarily is in the anti-aging and body
image or athletic market, comes with increased risks.”
factor is that most off-label users are usually unaware of the
correct doses. “One can assume that the dose administered would
be much greater than that given for legitimate purposes,” said
HGH dosages, it is possible to achieve levels similar to those
found in the endocrine disease acromegaly, which is caused by
too much growth hormone in the body. This condition can lead to
severe muscle weakness and even heart disease.
to Dr. Rogol, perhaps the most insidious off-label use is by athletes
and others who believe they are using actual growth hormone, when
in fact they may be receiving an entirely different substance.
and the internet are replete with advertisements for substances
marketed as ‘growth hormone’,” said Dr. Rogol. “Growth hormone,
however, can only work if injected, and many of these preparations
are taken orally, so they cannot possibly be HGH.”
falsely sold as HGH may contain other unlisted ingredients, including
anabolic steroid hormones or steroid precursors, which have been
found to promote the growth of tumors. These unlisted ingredients
can also appear in unknown quantities, while the entire preparation
is of unknown purity.
the vast majority of clinically administered growth hormone is
made by recombinant DNA techniques and not from human tissue.
“Growth hormone made from human tissue has largely been removed
from the market because of the rare but fatal Creutzfeldt-Jakob
disease,” said Dr. Rogol. “Some of the HGH now available clandestinely
is of human origin and may carry this deadly biological agent.”
hormone is legitimately prescribed by endocrinologists and other
doctors primarily to promote linear growth in short children.
It also is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for
conditions such as growth hormone deficiency, chronic kidney disease,
Turner syndrome, and idiopathic short stature. It also is administered
by physicians to alter body composition in adults with muscle
wasting due to HIV/AIDS.
hormone is produced naturally in the body by the pituitary gland,
which is located at the base of the brain. In children, HGH stimulates
growth and is also important in body development. In adults, HGH
can affect energy levels, and muscle and bone health.
are a number of legitimate reasons to administer human growth
hormone,” said Dr. Rogol, “these do not include anti-aging or
‘improvement’ in athletic performance. People who misuse this
drug run the risk of seriously damaging their health.”
1916, The Endocrine Society is the world's oldest, largest, and
most active organization devoted to research on hormones and the
clinical practice of endocrinology. Today, The Endocrine Society's
membership consists of over 14,000 scientists, physicians, educators,
nurses and students in more than 80 countries. Together, these
members represent all basic, applied, and clinical interests in
endocrinology. The Endocrine Society is based in Chevy Chase,
Md. To learn more about the Society, and the field of endocrinology,
visit our web site at http://www.endo-society.org