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Human Growth Hormone Does Boost Athletic Performance
Date:5/3/2010

ark Frankel, director of the scientific freedom, responsibility and law program for the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Prior research has suggested HGH reduces fat mass, Rabin said, as well as help the body recover more quickly from injury or "microtraumas" -- small injuries to the muscles, bones or joints that occur as a result of intense training. That type of a boost could put athletes at a competitive advantage, Rabin said.

But research as to whether HGH is actually performance-enhancing -- that is, making athletes stronger or faster -- has been limited, according to the research ream, led by Dr. Ken Ho, of the department of endocrinology at St. Vincent's Hospital, Sydney.

In the study, Ho's team found that the improvement in sprinting speed for athletes on HGH was the equivalent of a 4 percent gain. In runner's terms, that means an athlete who typically runs the 100-meter dash in 10 seconds could shave off a bit less than half a second of time. Or, in swimmer's terms, it's the equivalent of shaving off 1.2 seconds from a 50-meter swim normally done in about 30 seconds.

"For athletes, it is sufficient to make a very significant difference in terms of winning or losing a competition," Rabin said. "It's the difference between being the winner and the last one in the finals."

Sprint capacity returned to normal six weeks after participants stopped receiving injections, according to the study.

Yet the study has limitations, Frankel said. Researchers could not say with certainty whether the athletes improved sprint ability because of HGH or because they trained harder during the 8 weeks of the study. And many athletes take HGH believing it will boost endurance, strength, power and other physical abilities -- effects the study did not find.

"Athletes may be taking HGH as a means of trying to improve their performance, even though there is some concern about whether it really do
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