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Home > Drugs In Sport > Human Growth Hormone

Human Growth Hormone (hGH)

 


What is Human Growth Hormone?

Human Growth hormone (hGH) is also sometimes known as somatotrophic hormone or somatotrophin. It is produced by the pituitary gland and is essential for normal growth and development. hGH is anabolic, meaning it accelerates protein synthesis and also aids the metabolism (breaking down) of fat stores.

Medical Uses of Human Growth Hormone

The uses of hGH are limited in a medical setting:

  • Dwarfism and replacement therapy in growth-deficient children
  • Turner's syndrome (a chromosomal condition where the second X sex chromosome in females is either absent or deformed. This causes growth and development problems)
  • Renal insufficiency (kidney failure)
  • HIV (to treat muscle wasting)

Effects on Performance

.Athletes involved in powerful, strength demanding sports and events (weight lifting, body building, American football etc) are most likely to use hGH due to its perceived anabolic effect:

  • Increased muscle mass
  • Decreased fat stores
  • Accelerated muscle recovery

Many small studies however, have shown no increases in muscle size or strength following injection with hGH. A common practice among body-builders and weight-lifters is to combine hGH and anabolic steroids, with recent research demonstrating beneficial effects.

Side-Effects of Human Growth Hormone

The side-effects of hGH are vast and some serious:

  • Gigantism in younger athletes (or pituitary gigantism or giantism. Refers to abnormally excessive growth in height, considerably above average)
  • Acromegaly in adult athletes (a condition where the pituitary gland produces too much hGH, resulting in the growth and swelling of body parts, typically hands, feet, nose but can progress to brow and jaw protrusion and swelling of internal organs)
  • Hypothyroidism (low production of the thyroid hormone which disrupts metabolic rate and protein production)
  • Cardiomyopathy (disease of the cardiac muscle, increasing the risk of arrhythmia and sudden cardiac death)
  • Cardiac failure
  • Hypercholesterolemia (presence of high levels of cholesterol in the blood)
  • Ischemic heart disease (a lack of blood to the heart often due to coronary artery disease)
  • Myopathies (neuromuscular diseases affecting the function of muscle fibres)
  • Arthritis
  • Diabetes
  • Impotence
  • Osteoporosis
  • Menstrual irregularities in women
  • CJB (creutzfeldt-jakob disease or mad cow disease. This is only possible when the hGH is maintained from cadavers (corpses) rather than synthetic production)

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