Is Using Human Growth Hormone Bad?

Fester lurch 1966Dr. Kent Sepkowitz questions the negative media reaction to sports stars’ (and wannabes’) use of Human Growth Hormone (HGH) for the Daily Beast:

It appears that Major League Baseball is just about ready to give New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez the boot, possibly for life.

Although everything is at the rumor-only stage, accusations persist that A-Rod used human growth hormone, a performance-enhancing drug, obtained from the Biogenesis enterprise formerly headquartered in Coral Gables, Fla.

Setting aside whether Rodriguez is guilty or innocent, it’s fair to ask where all the excitement about HGH comes from, as well as where, in the cosmology of illegal performance-enhancing substances, it sits. First of all, HGH is not a steroid, though the term “steroid” has come to be used interchangeably and incorrectly with PEDs. Steroids and HGH are both hormones—in this one aspect there is a similarity—but steroids are produced by the body to promote sexual differentiation, while HGH is involved in growth and maturation. Male hormones, androgens such as testosterone, make a guy a guy, horny and pimply and restless—and muscular. Jumping higher and running faster are possible as well. It clearly enhances performance, as the beneficiaries of baseball’s last PED scandal, related to the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, realized. But not only do anabolic steroids increase athletic performance, they also increase a person’s risk of stroke, heart attack, and any number of bad-news illnesses. Stopping their use was a must.

Compared to ’roids, HGH is a relatively sedate amino acid, something people produce throughout life. Its effects are dramatic when levels are way too high or way too low. A common cause of dwarfism is an inadequate production of HGH. Its medical availability has made the diagnosis rare in countries with resources to diagnose and treat—the cost can run in the thousands of dollars per month. Others who, because of a tumor in the pituitary gland, may overproduce HGH develop a different problem: gigantism. Called acromegaly in medical parlance, it produces tall, gangly people ready for the basketball court, with thick jawbones and too-wide foreheads, as well as teeth that begin to spread apart as the lower jaw spreads. (Be on the lookout for older athletes with braces on their lower teeth.) A list of notable people who may have had acromegaly includes Lurch from The Addams Family, André the Giant, Jaws from the Bond movie The Spy Who Loved Me, and perhaps Abraham Lincoln…

[continues at the Daily Beast]


Majestic is gadfly emeritus.

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21 Comments on "Is Using Human Growth Hormone Bad?"

  1. Hadrian999 | Aug 3, 2013 at 10:56 am |

    like many things good if you use properly, bad of you use too much

  2. BuzzCoastin | Aug 3, 2013 at 12:14 pm |

    it is interesting that aMerkins ingest all sorts of pharmaceuticals
    legal & illegal
    many of which are performance enhancing
    but there seems to be another standard for athletic entertainers
    who must entertain not only with athletic prowess
    but also with ethical prowess as well

    • Hadrian999 | Aug 3, 2013 at 12:52 pm |

      PEDs in sports is a metagame, it isn’t about ethics it’s about being able to beat the test. look at Sosa and McGuire from their big year and look at their rookie pics they were obviously juicing but nobody cared because they could beat the test.

      • BuzzCoastin | Aug 3, 2013 at 1:07 pm |

        nobody cared

        not caring is the best position to take
        in regards to the machinations of sports show biz

        • Hadrian999 | Aug 3, 2013 at 1:21 pm |

          the whole congressional investigation is one of the greatest bits of comedy gold in the fucking universe

    • Good point.

      Thing is, we like to believe
      that athletes are physically superior
      to the rest of the human race,
      which is why we take it so hard
      when it turns out there was some help…

      Athletes seem more sanguine about this –
      especially bikers, who supported Lance Armstrong
      even as he owned the Tour De France for seven years.

  3. Ted Heistman | Aug 3, 2013 at 12:21 pm |

    I wouldn’t take it. A lot of the oldest people in the World are Asians who probably have some Taoist knowledge. I doubt these people taking testosterone and HGH are going to live much longer than these folks. Probably shorter. I think Testosterone is the opposite of a longevity drug.

    • Hadrian999 | Aug 3, 2013 at 1:26 pm |

      the whole point is to live while you are alive, as it is a third of our lifespans are horrific

      • Ted Heistman | Aug 3, 2013 at 1:45 pm |

        People who are very active in their Senior years are often very healthy right up to the end.

        • Hadrian999 | Aug 3, 2013 at 1:58 pm |

          if it isn’t strong enough enough to no impact camp and backpack and bang hotties in between it isn’t good enough’

          • Ted Heistman | Aug 3, 2013 at 2:04 pm |

            I think I might get the gist but some editing is in order.

            I just wouldn’t take this stuff. I am skeptical of it. I am all for people doing what they want to with their bodies. I think all drugs should be legal.

          • Hadrian999 | Aug 3, 2013 at 2:33 pm |

            i meant the level of fitness you believe the elderly have

          • Ted Heistman | Aug 3, 2013 at 3:31 pm |

            I’ve met some old farmers that are tough as nails. I think the key is remaining active, being tough to begin with and then keeping with it.

          • InfvoCuernos | Aug 3, 2013 at 10:36 pm |

            keeping physically active is one key. Too many elderly Americans just sit. The most exercise they get is bathing and getting dressed. I’ve known a few ranchers and farmers that smoked, drank, and ate the worst crap in the world, and lived well into their fifties. It may not seem as long, but they sure did pack a lot of living in that half century.

          • The Well Dressed Man | Aug 3, 2013 at 11:30 pm |

            Fifties is late middle age. Seems like most folks without serious health concerns get that far in decent shape these days.

    • Eric_D_Read | Aug 3, 2013 at 6:04 pm |

      I could see the benefit of supplementing when your natural level of HGH drops around mid 30s, but not overloading like athletes do.

  4. Staying active and fit is very important. I’m 70 and do over 1,000 push ups a week, climb 10 floors of steps every day, do a power walk 6 days a week, plus squats and sit ups.

    I weigh the same as I did when I was teaching a dozen martial arts classes a week and doing Nautilus 3 times a week. Yes, I am a fitness fanatic and it’s worth every minute of it.

  5. Rhoid Rager | Aug 3, 2013 at 5:26 pm |

    bread and circuses

  6. InfvoCuernos | Aug 3, 2013 at 10:38 pm |

    I knew a guy that drank alcohol with HGH and that fool could keep his hands off his unit-is one of the side effects of HGH chronic masturbation, or was that just him?

  7. The money machine pacifier concerned with ethics?

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