爱达荷州立大学中国学生学者联谊会

Chinese Association of Idaho State University (CAISU)

Is HGH (Human Growth Hormone) an Anti-Aging Miracle?

It sounds like the fountain of youth. It builds muscle and takes off extra pounds. And that's just the beginning. How about increased energy level, fewer wrinkles and more hair? These are just some of the claims made on behalf of the newest anti-aging miracle supplements, the Human Growth Hormone Releasers. But don't go investing in baby clothes just yet.HGH powder, human growth hormone powder, gh powder
It sounds like the fountain of youth. It builds muscle and takes off extra pounds. And that's just the beginning. How about increased energy level, fewer wrinkles and more hair? These are just some of the claims made on behalf of the newest anti-aging miracle supplements, the Human Growth Hormone Releasers. But don't go investing in baby clothes just yet.

Human Growth Hormone (HGH), or somatotropin, is made naturally by our bodies. The pituitary gland, an organ located at the base of the brain, secretes this hormone in bursts, with the greatest amounts released while you sleep. So why even consider raising blood levels artificially if the body makes the stuff? Because as we age, we make less and less of it. Any hormone we make less of as we age is of interest because of the alluring possibility that certain aspects of aging may be related to declining blood levels of the substance. Consequently, stemming the decline could have anti-aging effects. That is exactly the idea that occurred to Dr. Daniel Rudman at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee.

In 1990 Rudman injected 12 men ranging in age from 60 to 81 with HGH three times a week for six months. Injection is the only way to administer the hormone since it is a protein that would be broken down in the digestive tract if taken orally. The results were interesting. The men became more muscular and lost body fat when compared with a control group of nine men who received no treatment. Since it is hard to measure HGH levels in the body directly, the researchers actually measured the amount of another hormone called Insulin-like Growth Factor-1 (IGF-1) which is made in the liver upon stimulation by HGH. Apparently IGF-1 is the active substance through which HGH carries out its work. IGF-1 levels did increase noticeably upon HGH injection. Rudman made no anti-aging claims and concluded that more research was warranted.

Subsequent research unfortunately dampened the initial enthusiasm about Human Growth Hormone. Kevin Yarasheski at The Washington University School of Medicine had to stop his 1993 trial on twelve subjects aged from 63 to 76 when half of them developed carpal tunnel compression, fluid retention and symptoms of arthritis within weeks of initiating treatment. Fortunately all symptoms were reversed within a short time after stopping the HGH injections.

Then something fascinating happened. The popular press got a hold of the growth hormone story and blew it out of proportion. Rudman's data were interpreted to suggest that the molecular fountain of youth had been found. People began to clamor for a shot at bringing back their youth. And some doctors responded. Clinics in Nevada began to offer injections of HGH for outrageous prices. No one seemed interested in the possibility that growth hormone could also stimulate the growth of tumors. In laboratory experiments it can. No one seemed interested in knowing that while HGH seemed to increase muscle mass, there was no evidence that it actually improved muscle strength.

The weight loss people also got into the game claiming that HGH injections would allow people to slim down. Rudman's study did show some fat loss and there is some evidence that HGH can help mobilize fat stores. It also seems that obese people secrete less HGH, but this could also be the result of obesity rather than a cause of it. There are actually no studies in the literature that would support effective weight loss via HGH.

Don't get the impression, though, that Human Growth Hormone is a useless substance. It has been effectively used to treat children with stunted growth. Today, a genetically engineered version of the hormone is used. In the days before the advent of this recombinant form of HGH, doctors used to give children growth hormone from cows, sheep and human cadavers. This proved to be quite dangerous as a small percent of the treated children developed the human form of mad cow disease (called Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease). Doses of the hormone have to be carefully monitored because too much growth hormone can be harmful. Indeed, sometimes the body itself produces too much hormone as a result of pituitary abnormalities. This can cause gigantism, or if excess secretion starts only in adulthood, a condition called acromegaly, which is characterized by enlargement of the bones of the face, hands and feet. Diabetes-like symptoms are also possible.

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