Although there is limited data on the use of growth hormone in athletes, there have been a significant amount of tests done on the elderly. The first scientific study on growth hormone in the elderly came out in 1990. Published by Dr. Rudman in the New England Journal of Medicine, the report showed the first findings of beneficial use of HGH in the elderly. The results of the effects of growth hormone on 12 elderly men, healthy in every way except a low level of IGF-1, were recorded. After receiving growth hormone for 6 months, the men had a 9% increase in muscle mass, a 14% decrease in fat, and a thickening of the skin.11 The most influential part of this report on growth hormone was Rudman's statement on the results of the test in which he wrote, "The effects of six months of human growth hormone on lean body mass and adipose-tissue mass were equivalent in magnitude to the changes incurred during 10 to 20 years of aging."11 Rudman was effectively claiming that human growth hormone reversed the aging process. This report and Rudman's statement effectively set off the growth hormone explosion. All types of people began to pursue the use of this hormone in order to increase performance or decrease the effects of aging.
Even with all of the evidence on the benefits of human growth hormone, the hormone is currently an extremely controversial topic. Many leading scientists denounce it as at best worthless, and at worst the cause of extreme side effects. One outspoken critic is Dr. Stephen Barrett, M.D. of Quackwatch.org. His website seeks to "combat health-related frauds, myths, fads, and fallacies."11 Dr. Barrett admits that growth hormone levels decrease with age, however, he goes on to say that, "Considering the high cost, significant side effects, and lack of proven effectiveness, HGH shots appear to be a very poor investment." It is worth mentioning that the people who have felt significant benefits from supplementing with growth hormones would strongly disagree with Dr. Barrett's statement. The results from using growth hormone are in the eyes of the user, and it is the user alone who can determine whether growth hormone is worth the investment.
10. Barrett, Stephen. Quackwatch.org. 3 December 2003 . http://www.quackwatch.org <http://www.quackwatch.org/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/hgh.html>
11. Rudman et al. "Effects of human growth hormone in men over 60 years old." New England Journal of Medicine 1990 323: 1-6.
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