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Published: August 01, 2015
Dear TeenHealthFX,

Can you tell me more about HGH?

Signed: HGH

Dear HGH,

Human Growth Hormones (HGH) came into the media spotlight shortly after the use of illegal supplements scandal broke in baseball. At first the talk was primarily focused on steroids and some of baseball’s premier power hitters. However as baseball probed further they found that HGH was common use among professional athletes and sadly what becomes popular with professional athletes becomes popular with athletes of all type of ability.  

Human growth hormone (HGH) is only legal when prescribed by a doctor for specific medical conditions. Doctors prescribe HGH for people whose bodies don't naturally make enough growth hormone, a condition known as growth hormone deficiency.  Human growth hormones are only available as injections that need to be administered by a medical professional. In the situations where doctors use HGH to treat a case of growth hormone deficiency, it is generally safe and effective, with relatively few side effects. However using Human growth hormones for non-medically approved circumstances can be very dangerous. There are alarming national trends that show show an increase in growth hormones being abused as an athletic supplement even though there is no conclusive evidence that it improves an athlete’s performance. The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that U.S. sales of HGH in 2004 totaled $622 million for legitimate and non-legitimate uses. Of that 74% of the prescriptions for HGH that year went to people 20 and older. Dr. Thomas Perls, of Boston Medical Center, a co-author of the study concluded that the numbers indicated a large amount of illegal distribution of HGH.  

The National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre have published a Fact sheet highlighting the risks when HGH is misused: 

  •  Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar, risk of diabetic coma)
  • Glucose intolerance/ diabetes mellitus (high blood sugar)
  • Inadequate thyroid function
  • Acromegaly (irreversible) an overgrowth of bone and connective tissue that leads to a change in facial appearance, such as a protruding jaw and eyebrow bones. Acromegaly can also lead to abnormal growth of the hands and feet, and a shortened life expectancy
  • Heart enlargement (may be irreversible)
  • Heart damage
  • High blood pressure
  • Premature ageing and death (especially in the case of acromegaly)
  • Water retention
  • Thickening of the skin
  • Abnormal hair growth
  • Liver damage
  • Impotence
  • Arthritis  

Aside from these direct negative side effects of HGH there are some other things to consider. Any type of HGH that is not obtained by a prescription is not regulated by the government and could be made up of just about anything. The products you see advertised online as ‘growth hormone,” “growth stimulators,” and “growth factors” claim to be growth hormones but they are more likely to be amino acids which don’t significantly increase growth hormone levels in your body, inert substances with no benefit at all, or they could even be black market substances that are tainted and dangerous. Because growth hormones have to be injected to have any effect you run the risk of transmission of blood-borne viruses (such as hepatitis or HIV). In addition to the danger there is a significant cost associated with the drug. HGH is about $5,000 for a month's prescription, meaning that the street value for just a month could run anywhere from $5,000–$10,000.




Signed: TeenHealthFX