Human Growth Hormone Not an Antiaging Marvel

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2010-01-27 04:14

If you have been taking human growth hormone (HGH) because you believe it is an antiaging agent, you may want to reconsider. A new study from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine shows that levels of human growth hormone in the body do not seem to affect life span positively or negatively.

In fact, the research team, led by Roberto Salvatori, MD, associate professor in the Department of Endocrinology at Johns Hopkins, found that people who are severely deficient in human growth hormone appear to live just as long as people who have normal levels of the hormone. Therefore, claims that HGH can slow down the aging process seem to be unfounded.

These results may give pause to the tens of thousands of people who take human growth hormone to ward off the advances of aging. Ever since Rudman and his colleagues reported in 1991 that elderly men given HGH experienced fat loss, an improvement in their skin health, and an increase in muscle mass, there has been a growing and profitable market in promoting HGH to individuals as an antiaging agent. It should be noted, however that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved HGH as an antiaging therapy, and that its distribution for this purpose is illegal in the United States.

This is not the first study to suggest that HGH has no value as an antiaging agent. A 2007 study from Stanford University, for example, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, noted that a review of controlled, randomized trials encompassing 220 healthy elderly individuals found no evidence to support the use of HGH as an antiaging therapy but did find increased rates of adverse events among users.

In the current study, researchers evaluated a population of 65 dwarves that live in a rural area of Brazil. The scientists found that each member of the group have two mutant copies of a gene that is responsible for releasing HGH, which results in a severe congenital deficiency of the hormone and the dwarf state. After genetic tests validated the mutation, the researchers collected data from the dwarves and their 128 unaffected siblings and compared life span information within the group and with the general population.

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