HGH supplementation: health risks you should know about

I previously shared how HGH supplementation improves health of aging men and women. It has been shown to: 

Diminish wrinkles and age spots; make skin firmer and smootherReduce fat, increase lean muscle mass,  and improve bone densityRe-invigorate your sex drive and performanceImprove memory and mental sharpness; help you be decisive yet calmImprove restful REM (rapid eye-movement) sleep, andStrengthen your immune system—plus lower your heart disease risk

As beneficial as HGH is shown to be, we still need to consider two important questions: Safety and cost of HGH supplementation. In this article let’s consider the safety profile of HGH supplementation.  

Safety concerns 

Short-term use of HGH supplementation can seldom cause:

Joint, muscle or nerve painHeadacheNerve, muscle, or joint pain Swelling of hands and feet; body swellingCarpal tunnel syndrome; numbness or tingling of the skin

Longer term adverse effects are actually debatable. I have seen studies to support both sides of these potential health risks:  

Increased risk of diabetes: Your blood insulin concentrations could increase with HGH injection therapy and therefore your risk of type 2 diabetes must be considered.  Have your doctor check your HbA1c level before and after 3 to 6 months of treatment. However, two large long-term studies showed no increased risk for diabetes in HGH-deficient adults who received physiological replacement doses of HGH supplementation.  

May encourage cancer growth: Even Matched controls were compared to 110 patients with brain irradiation for cancer who were treated with HGH supplementation and followed for 14.5 yrs. The treatment group proved to have no increased rate of cancer recurrence.  Two other large long-term studies showed no increased risk for new cancer in HGH-deficient adults who received physiological replacement doses of HGH supplementation.  According to Life Extension Foundation (www.lef.org), Pfizer’s Genotropin (HGH) study published in 2003 had gathered 40,000 patient-years of data. They reported that HGH replacement does not increase your risk for new cancer or diabetes mellitus, and by 2009 they reported in the European Journal of Endocrinology that with over 60,000 patient-years of data, HGH had dramatically improved the quality of life these adults with former growth hormone deficiency. 

Acromegaly: this is an irreversible overgrowth of bones and muscles.  Acromegaly naturally can develop slowly over the years if a pituitary tumor secretes very high amounts of HGH—a theoretical concern for HGH supplementation.

Plastic skin: HGH is reported by teaching physicians at the American Academy of Anti-aging Medicine to result in a shiny, plastic facial skin appearance after 20 years of continuous use at physiological replacement doses. They suggest that intermittent should prevent this effect. 

In my concluding article on this topic I’ll look at testing for HGH deficiency, its cost, and the newer HGH-like medicines and their cost. 

To feeling healthy and aging slower,

Michael Cutler, M.D.

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