If you ever sit on those shady body-build forums, chances are that you will come across success stories about growth hormones (human growth hormone), also known as HGH or somatotropin. But, is it all happening as written on those forums.
We will do a fact check about such claims.
Lets first understand what is natural HGH in your body and how it works.
As soon as you fall asleep your pituitary gland (an organ in your head the size of a kidney bean) goes to work. The pituitary gland produces HGH, a polypeptide consisting of 190 various amino acids. HGH gets into your bloodstream and binds to specific receptors throughout your body – including your brain. In your brain, it mainly binds to the receptors that are responsible for memory and learning. It also binds to fat cells, which thereby lose part of their charge. It also stimulates your liver to produce a powerful hormone – IGF-1, insulin-like growth factor. This hormone stimulates the growth of your bones, cartilage and muscles.
So lets take a look at few claims about HGH and check the facts.
HGH stimulates muscle growth and burns fat
His friends know Peter as a friendly guy with a good job. What they probably don’t know about him is that he easily prints 500 kilos on the leg press. Peter has been participating in body-build competitions since he was 18 years old. He always trained purely in nature. But by the time he was 40, he had to do a lot of training with heavy weights with operations on his knees and shoulder joints. After those operations, Peter was unable to train at full intensity and strength for a long time. One of his gym friends advised him to use steroids and growth hormones to accelerate recovery and maintain his body. It was not difficult to get those illegal drugs. As per Peter, If you go to the gym often, you know where to go and buy them. His friend could get his funds from a doctor’s friend.
As per says psychiatrist Harrison Pope, Growth hormones are popular among athletes, because they believe that growth hormones give you that ideal body. The problem with growth hormones is that it is often used together with anabolics. Anabolics definitely do their job, but that makes it difficult to determine which part of the muscle growth is due to HGH and which to anabolics.
In an Australian study, 96 cyclists were divided into four groups: the first group received only HGH, the second only testosterone, the third injected HGH and testosterone and the last group of cyclists received a placebo. After eight weeks of research, the sprint capacity of the HGH users was improved by 4% compared to the placebo users. The group that used HGH plus testosterone sprinted 8% faster. The muscle growth of the HGH users, on the other hand, had not increased.
In other words: HGH does not do what testosterone does for your muscles, says sports scientist Michael Kjaer. In one of his studies, Kjaer compared the muscle growth of healthy men in their 20s who used HGH with those of subjects who received placebo. He discovered that the connective tissue was stimulated, but not the muscles themselves. Older men also do not benefit from growth hormones.
A study by the University of Southern California shows that there is no data showing that empirical treatment with HGH improves muscle growth or sports performance in older men. Peter has now passed the age of 50 and uses a combination of steroids and growth hormones. The steroids provide him with the desired muscles, while the growth hormones also ensure that he burns extra fat. Various studies indeed show that HGH can burn fat (and in particular stubborn visceral fat). Peter admits that he is worried about the side effects of HGH, especially because of the increased risk of cancer. He is checked with his doctor more often. According to Peter, HGH has a worse reputation among his ‘gym crew’ than steroids, probably because less research has been done into it. “Men make jokes about HGH because they fear their nose will grow,” says Peter. “That makes you think.”
No extra muscles, but more burnt fat. The drug is expensive, that is a disadvantage, and moreover it is poorly researched
HGH postpones aging
Michel does not have to be 100, but it would be nice to be able to dance at his daughter’s wedding. He is 72, she is only 12, so that can take a while.
Five years ago, the retired orthodontist asked his doctor, Dr. Florence Committee, what he could do to stay younger. He had been exercising three times a week and had run 30 marathons in his life.
Dr Committee came to the conclusion that Michel produced less IGF-1 and other hormones than should. After unsuccessfully trying to stimulate his HGH for a year in a natural way, he decided to inject 0.3 milligrams a day (by prescription, since he had an IGF-1 deficiency). Michel says he would even want to pay it out of his own pocket if it should, since the results are there. He was always tired and in pain everywhere. Now he looks a lot younger and healthier.
Dr Committee strongly supports the use of growth hormones. But many of her colleagues think differently. According to her, the focus nowadays is too much on treating illnesses, rather than keeping people healthy. She think it’s more important that everyone can live a healthy, long life.
How growth hormones fit into that picture is still a matter of discussion. Dr Committee does not measure the number of growth hormones in its patients, but the amount of IGF-1 in the body. This substance is produced in the liver in response to growth hormones, but a lack of growth hormones may not necessarily be the reason that someone produces too little IGF-1.
In addition, it is unclear whether someone will benefit from the use of growth hormones in the long term.
Clinical Interventions in aging, It appears that people who produce too little growth hormones themselves will definitely benefit from HGH, but that there is as yet no evidence that use of the hormone in people who produce less HGH because they get older has advantages or disadvantages.
One of the biggest drawbacks: the risk of cancer. HGH stimulates the growth of tissue in the body and can therefore also mean a growth spurt for a tumor. Metabolic problems may also arise. If your body converts fat into fuel because you exercise, it is normal. But if you burn fat as a result of using HGH, then the sudden release of glucose into your bloodstream can mess up the natural process. This allows you to become insulin resistant and even get diabetes. Moreover, HGH has never been proven to help you live longer. If you think you have a lack of growth hormones, then talk to an endocrinologist.
Okay, you can look a little younger, but otherwise HGH doesn’t do much against the aging of your body.