Synthetic Human Growth Hormone is not as Beneficial for preventing aging in Elderly

Synthetic Human Growth Hormone is not as Beneficial for preventing aging in Elderly

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Human Growth Hormone has been promoted as being a way to slow down aging, however a review published in the January 16th issue of Annals of Internal Medicine reports that the synthetic hormone is not offering dramatic changes, and at the same time can have some undesired side effects.

The small changes of taking synthetic growth hormone was seen in body composition. They report did not see any changes in body weight or other significantly important benefits. There were however adverse side effects reported. Some side effects reported included soft tissue swelling, joint pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and, in men, abnormal breast development. There were a slight increase in developing diabetes.

"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."

Not only has there been very little benefits there is more evidence that it can cause adverse side effects.

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

While human growth hormone is a natural protein made by the pituitary gland, supplementing with synthetic hormones are not looking that promising. The United States FDA has approved the drug and is currently approved for the treatment of short stature and growth problems due to childhood diseases. The FDA has also approved growth hormone for adult that show a deficiency syndrome. This is a grey area for doctor's to prescribe to elderly for off label use for anti-aging. The pharmaceutical companies are not allowed to market the growth hormone for the treatment of anti-aging. The investigation estimates that there is an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 adults who have used growth hormone in the US in 2004.

The internet has marketed growth hormone as being the fountain of youth. While a person can benefit with exercise and increase their human growth hormone naturally, the synthetic version is coming up short. The promises that some of these websites promote include increased muscle strength, decreased body fat, a mental mood and motivation enhancer, an increased ability to exercise more, increased bone density and improved male sex enhancements. The review reports unfortunately they did not see the benefits being achieved with this medication.

Not only is it not showing benefit it is very expensive to pay for the growth hormone replacement therapy. It is estimated that a one year adult supply of the synthetic growth hormone would cost between $7,500 and $10,000 per year if being taken for a growth hormone deficiency. If the medication is being used for anti-aging purposes it would cost an estimated $12,000 to $24,000 per year.

"Everyone is looking for the fountain of youth," Liu said. "We wanted to see if there is any validity behind some of the claims made about growth hormone's anti-aging properties.

"Our biggest surprise was the general lack of research that had been done in this area. When we reviewed the scientific evidence, we found that there were really only about 500 patients involved in rigorous controlled trials. And only a few more than 200 actually received growth hormone," added Liu.

"In our review, we found that growth hormone increased lean body mass or muscle mass by slightly more than two kilograms (that's a little over four pounds) and decreased fat mass by about two kilograms. But it had no other beneficial effects that we could see."

Liu pointed out that good old fashioned exercise can accomplish the same effects without much effort. It would be wise to exercise instead of investing in the medication if you are looking for more muscle and less fat an put the rest away for a rainy day.

"If you went to a gym pretty regularly, you might get that change without breaking into too much of a sweat, and you wouldn't spend $1,000 to $2,000 a month on something that appears to have modest or minimal benefit and the probability of bad side effects," said Liu.

By Mark Barone
Best Syndication Health Staff Writer

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