New Study: Human Growth Hormone Ineffective, Unsafe

A new study published in today’s edition of the Annals of Internal Medicine calls into question the safety and efficacy of human growth hormone (HGH) when used as an anti-aging therapy on elderly patients. HGH is commonly used off-label as an anti-aging therapy–meaning it is not approved for that usage–but researchers at Stanford University are now saying that hormone therapy does not produce the desired anti-aging effects and may, in fact, lead to severe adverse events.

According to the editors of the journal, “The researchers reviewed all clinical trials of GH to determine if it is safe and effective in the healthy elderly. They found that GH had no important effects on body composition but led to frequent adverse effects, most notably soft tissue edema and arthralgias [joint pain and swelling]…. Available evidence suggests that risks far outweigh benefits when it is used as an anti-aging treatment in healthy older adults.”

The study examined 220 individuals from 31 different research reports. The average age of the participants was 69. The authors found that six months of HGH usage was responsible for a very small decrease in fat mass (fewer than 5 pounds) and a small increase in lean body (muscle) mass (also fewer than 5 pounds), but did not affect bone density, cholesterol, lipid levels, or oxygen consumption. The researchers also claim that HGH therapy may lead to diabetes or a pre-diabetic condition.

Currently, HGH is not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as an anti-aging therapy. Therefore, any doctor prescribing HGH for anti-aging purposes is doing so illegally (ie. without the approval of the FDA). Despite this fact, it is estimated that more than 20,000 Americans use HGH for that purpose every year.

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