More on Human Growth Hormone

Headline: Growth hormone doesn’t boost athletic abilities: HGH may actually impair performance, review of studies finds

While growth hormone adds some muscle, it doesn’t appear to improve strength or exercise capacity, according to a review of studies that tested the hormone in mostly athletic young men.

“It doesn’t look like it helps and there’s a hint of evidence it may worsen athletic performance,” said Dr. Hau Liu, of Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in San Jose, Calif., who was lead author of the review.

Of course, this doesn’t stop the AP reporter from offering several qualifiers.

But the new research has some limitations and sheds no light on long-term use of HGH. The scientists note their analysis included few studies that measured performance. The tests also probably don’t reflect the dose and frequency practiced by athletes illegally using the hormone. Experiments like that aren’t likely to be conducted.

“It’s dangerous, unethical and it’s never going to be done,” said Dr. Gary I. Wadler, a member of the World Anti-Doping Agency and a spokesman for the American College of Sports Medicine.

Consequently, those in the field have to depend on such reviews or “what we hear on the ground,” he added.

You know, I don’t recall the media being so vigorous on catching up on the science when all of the stories were reporting on growth hormone as a performance-enhancer.

There is no doubt that the perfect study on the subject has yet to be done, nor will it ever be done. But, the studies that have been done lead me to believe that were such a study to be done I would expect it to find minimal ergogenic effects. It’s not just that some empirical studies have been done on strength, but that when the muscles themselves are studied, they are developing differently from normal muscle. Thus, when we hypothesize about larger doses, I think the current studies give us a good idea about would occur.

The problem going with WADA scientist Gary Wadler hears “on the ground” is that in uncontrolled experiments, the placebo effect rears its head.

3 Responses “More on Human Growth Hormone”

  1. David says:

    Surely the more smart-alec among us would suggest that as long as you use the “steroids” label for HGH-related posts, you’re only giving in to the cycle of misinformation. :)

  2. Mark says:

    The placebo effect may have some influence on the way players play. I’d be more interested to see a comprehensive study of players using HGH and players not using HGH to see if there is a difference between their performance, be it due to muscular changes or the placebo effect. Unfortunately, such a study would require researchers to know who is and isn’t on HGH, and that’s not going to happen any time soon.

  3. Bryan says:

    I thought the idea was that HGH did nothing alone, but when combined with steroids, the effects were huge.