With the recent announcement that the National Football League and the player’s union have reached an agreement on improvements to existing policies, human growth hormone (HGH) use is back in the news. The agreement will allow for testing of HGH and provide for neutral arbitration for appeals.
Besides allowing for testing of HGH, the agreement also calls for:
- Up to six game ban for first violation
- Two game ban for masking agents
- Four game ban for steroids, stimulants or HGH
- Six game ban for trying to manipulate the test results
- Additional penalties include:
- 10 game plan for second offense
- Minimum two year ban for 3rd violation
The tightening of the rules regarding HGH point the problems — and dangers — of using growth hormones without having a prescription or being under a doctor’s care.
NFL players are only the most visible, potential abusers. Also abusing HGH, but unseen, are weekend athletes or individuals who play amateur sports.
The desire for increased muscle mass, greater stamina and other claimed benefits have seen HGH being used in younger athletes each year.
With each new sports season, the controversy increases as well.
Controversy about the use of human growth hormone and growth hormone therapy have normally focused on the claims and products. The majority of the controversy has fallen into 2 slots:
- Exaggerated and misleading claims that growth hormone treatment is safe and effective when it comes to slowing or reversing aging.
- Products that are sold that misleadingly claim to be growth hormone to to boost the user’s own natural human growth hormone.
So how did HGH become so controversial and where can modern-day thinking be traced to?
In 1990, a study was published in The New England Journal of Medicine which claimed to show fat loss, muscle mass increase from the use of growth hormone in twelve older males. Despite the fact that the authors of the study never claimed that growth hormone had reversed the aging process, the results were taken as indicating that growth hormone is effective in reversing the effects of the aging process. This study, along with others, led to organizations promoting the use of growth hormone as an “anti-aging agent.”
There has never been a sufficiently large controlled trial to prove one way or the other that human growth hormone therapy gives significant anti-aging benefits. Some scientific articles have clearly demonstrated that supplementing the body’s own natural growth hormone doesn’t increase muscle strength. It is possible that there are some limited advantages, such as increasing lean body mass, it is also apparent that the benefits are being exaggerated by some for profit.
Anti-aging has been fairly discarded as a benefit of using HGH. The side effects can be painful and deadly.
A few of the side effects seen in previously healthy patients include:
- Increased risk of death due to the strain put on the heart and cardiovascular system
- Joint and muscle pain
- Fluid build-up at the joints
- Joint swelling
- If GH is injected with shared needles, exposure to HIV, AIDS and hepatitis is possible
If you, or someone you know, has been abusing HGH, seek out a competent sports physician who can advise you on the safe and proper ways to use HGH.