Can Growth Hormone Stop Aging?

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Kate Marie

Whilst wielding a couple of dumbbells in a gym class in 2003, Kate experienced an epiphany around the lack of accepted best practice guidelines when it came to staying well and avoiding disease. Kate realized that she had no chance of slowing her own aging process unless she became better educated about her options.
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. Growth Hormone (HGH), Healthy Aging, What Happens as We Age? — By

Is Growth Hormone The Anti-Aging Pill?

It is known that growth hormone exerts effects on many parts of the body, and those prescribed growth hormone for medical conditions frequently display improvements in cardiovascular health, metabolic health and musculoskeletal system health. Growth hormone can also have a positive impact upon cognition, help prevent depression, improve sleep and improve reproductive health in both men and women.

The amount of growth hormone circulating in the body declines by around 14% for every decade of age in humans. Reduced secretion of growth hormone is partly responsible for a decrease in lean body mass, expansion of adipose (fat) tissue mass and age-related skin thinning, common characteristics of our aging bodies.

Along with this, there are declines in bone mass, muscle mass, dyslipidaemia, quality of life, and psychological symptoms similar to those seen in individuals who have a diagnosed growth hormone deficiency (GHD) disorder. These signs of aging linked in part to lower levels of growth hormone, are also known as the ‘somatopause’.

As recently as summer 2011, researchers acknowledged that the use of growth hormone in aging has been poorly studied, and although growth hormone is common in the treatment of various medical conditions, human growth hormone (hGH) and similar growth hormone treatments have yet to be approved for anti-aging purposes.

The US Perspective on Growth Hormone and Aging

In the US, growth hormone is not prescribed for anti-aging, and last decade, government bodies conducted investigations into clinics and distribution services that were providing growth hormone for non-medically prescribed purposes i.e. as an anti-aging treatment or as a sport performance enhancing treatment.

One key problem arising from this and one of the reasons for the investigation is that there are no means of detecting or monitoring adverse events in individuals who purchase growth hormone through non-traditional channels, for non-medical purposes. The authors (Oshlanksy and Perls) concluded that until efficacy and safety of growth hormone is confirmed through rigorous clinical trials, it should not be used for anything other than its prescribed medical uses.

In 2009, the Growth Hormone Research Society published a statement about the use of growth hormone and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) to extend life span. It recommended that until further research is carried out, growth hormone in adults cannot be recommended for aging.

However, the National Institute of Aging does currently state on its website that it is investigating the administration of hormones (including growth hormone) to older people.

‘Anti-Aging’ Growth Hormone Treatment

In 1990, an early study investigated the effect of growth hormone on older men, showing that it was able to increase lean body mass, decrease overall fat mass, increase bone density in the lumbar vertebrae and increase skin thickness. The researchers at the time acknowledged that there were potential benefits of growth hormone treatment in older people, although more extensive work was required on treatment duration, adverse effects and etc.

The HORMA study included older community dwelling men, who were given a physiological dose (similar to natural levels in men in their 30s or 40s) of either testosterone supplement, or testosterone with growth hormone. Whichever group the subjects were allocated to, they demonstrated an increase in lean body mass and decrease in total fat mass. They also had an increase in muscle strength and were able to increase their stair climbing power.

Although there were some negative changes with blood pressure and LDL-cholesterol levels, the subjects showed improved HDL-cholesterol and fasting triglyceride levels. A number of the positive effects of the hormone therapy remained three months after the treatments had stopped.

The majority of reviews have acknowledged that growth hormone in older people can be beneficial, improving musculoskeletal health and promoting some aspects of good cardiovascular health. However, at the time of publishing, the review authors were unable to recommend the use of growth hormone as an anti-aging therapy.

Thierry Hertoghe is the president of The International Hormone Society, which aims to increase public awareness of importance and availability of doctors who specialize in hormone deficiencies or excesses, and also the medicine of aging. The society also aims to develop the “medicine of aging” within the professional medical community. Although the society is carrying out promising hormone work, including growth hormone, as other specialists in the field have concluded, there is still a need for large-scale, long-term clinical trials, to assess the overall benefits of growth hormone as a specialist approach for anti-aging.

Although research concludes that growth hormone therapy is able to promote physical and mental health in aging men and women, the use of growth hormone in anti-aging and longevity applications remains controversial. As more clinical studies are undertaken on growth hormone in the context of aging, it is predicted by some that growth hormone may in the future become key anti-aging therapy.

References

Last Reviewed 9/Mar/2014

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