Human Growth Hormone - Poor Choice

I am happy that performance-enhancing drugs are not a significant part of the rowing culture. I like to think that is because rowers are the finest people out there (I do believe this!) but I'm sure for a few it has something to do with the low reward (financial at least) sport and the high cost of these drugs. Whatever the reason, I am glad that it is this way, as I am not one of those who believe in making them legal just to level the playing field. It can't ever become a competition about who is willing to risk their health the most or who can spend the most money. It can't ever get away from the true spirit of sport and competition.

Still, articles on performance enhancing drugs remain fascinating for many reasons. I recently stumbled upon one article from years ago in Outside magazine where writer Stuart Stevens decided that he couldn't report on hearsay and found a doctor who precribes drugs for athletes to see what it really is like to be on a program while training for an elite event. It is an interesting read and even more reassuring that although he saw huge benfits competitively, in the end he felt that he would not continue to take them even if he could.

In the article the drugs are administered by a doctor running an (increasingly popular) anti-aging clinic. Apparently taking Human Growth Hormone is becoming popular amongst people trying to stave off father time. It was interesting then to see a recent report of a study from Stanford Univeristy in medPage Today that this is a poor choice to make! Apparently the use of HGH is incresing rapidly, although it is not approved as an anti-aging medication and can cost as much as $1000 per month. The article notes:

This study suggests that there is no evidence that the compound has any beneficial effect on aging, but clear evidence that it increases the risk of several adverse effects

The conclusion, the researchers said, is that growth hormone in otherwise healthy older people is associated with small changes in body composition but no alteration in clinically relevant outcomes, such as bone density, cholesterol and lipids, and maximal oxygen consumption.

Other reports on the study can be found in Forbe's Magazine and Scientific American.

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