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Growth hormone is not the anti-aging bullet for healthy adults

usands of adults use GH as an anti-aging drug. One estimate is that 20,000 to 30,000 adults used it for anti-aging purposes in the United States in 2004.

The Web is replete with ads for all kinds of products said to contain GH, from pills, sprays, injections, secretagogues, homeopathic formations, and GH releasers and enhancers. GH, often in conjunction with vitamins, testosterone and other hormones, is said to increase muscle strength and mass, decrease body fat, improve mood and motivation, increase exercise capacity, increase bone density and (wink, wink) make wives and girlfriends happy.

Despite these enticing claims, careful review of existing evidence does not support the prescription of GH for anti-aging purposes.

Growth hormone is among the most expensive of all hormones used for replacement therapy. One physician estimated that a year's supply for an adult with GH-deficiency caused by pituitary disease would cost between $7,500 and $10,000 per year. Estimates of the cost of GH for anti-aging purposes range from $1,000 per month to $2,000 per month.

"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.

"Think about all the scientific claims made on anti-aging Web sites based on this small population of patients. The FDA typically doesn't approve a drug until it's been tested in thousands of patients.

"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 abo
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Source:American College of Physicians


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