Tiger Woods and HGH

Now that Tiger Woods’s doctor has been caught with growth hormone (more commonly known as HGH), I think it’s a good time for a reminder that the scientific consensus is that growth hormone does not improve athletic performance.

Dr. Thomas Perls, director of the New England Centenarian Study at the Boston University of Medicine in his testimony before Congress.

“There is no credible scientific evidence that growth hormone substantively increases muscle strength or aerobic exercise capacity in normal individuals.”

You can read summaries of academic studies on the subject here and here.

If you think HGH is a PED, then you have no right to laugh at global warming skeptics or proponents of stadiums as engines of economic growth.

7 Responses “Tiger Woods and HGH”

  1. Pip says:

    Wouldn’t it be more accurate to say “growth hormone does not *by itself* improve athletic performance”?

    This may be a silly question, but why would someone take HGH (either by itself or in conjunction with steroids) for reasons other than medical necessity if it didn’t help?

  2. JC says:

    I don’t agree with your first statement.

    As to your second statement: Why Do Players Take Human Growth Hormone If It Doesn’t Work?

  3. Pip says:

    My first statement is based on comments like:

    “We found that growth hormone does not increase muscle mass or improve performance. Only when you combine growth hormone with testosterone does it have an effect,” he said. When taken together, the two substances have a synergistic effect, lowering the body’s fluid and fat levels while building muscle.” — Dr. Ken Ho, Garvan Institute of Medical Research


    “Athletes taking human growth hormone probably take it in conjunction with a steroid.” –Dr. Todd Schlifstein, sports medicine rehabilitation physician at New York University Medical Center’s Rusk Institute

    Do you have some research that refutes those? Or why do you disagree?

    Thanks for the link. I’ll try to read more regularly. 😉

  4. JC says:

    It’s long been known that athlete’s often take these drugs in conjunction with others, but there is not much reason to think there is an additional ergogenic effect beyond the steroids. From conversations with my exercise physiologist colleagues, the benefits are theoretically possible, but any effect is probably not big considering that growth has been shown time and time again to do nothing. It’s the steroids that are the real factor, and steroids are easy to test for. So, for practical purposes, it doesn’t really matter if there is a joint effect.

    But as to the description of the study you mentioned, the particular findings do not appear to have been published. I can find some findings from a nearly identical participant population that were published (http://jcem.endojournals.org/cgi/content/full/93/6/2213) but they only related to identifying biological markers, not ergogenic effects.

    Most of the joint effect is hypothetical, proposed by trainers/drug dealers seeking to seduce clients. Like the eyesight and recovery rumors that circulate, upon further there doesn’t appear to be much support.

  5. Marc Schneider says:


    Do the studies suggest that HGH is harmful? My argument against steroids, for example, is not so much that they give an unfair advantage but that they create health risks. Is the same true for HGH?

  6. JC says:

    Growth hormone’s negative side effects are far worse than steroids’.

  7. steve says:

    So if Tiger (or any other pro athlete) did, say, take HGH, we are supposed to let it go? What was their intention taking it? Should it play out that Tiger was indeed taking HGH, is he going to give a press conference saying “Yes I took HGH, but I knew it probably wouldn’t help my game in any manner.” No. Despite the actual results, the intentions of HGH users are to ehance performance while circumventing drug testing- to cheat. Shouldn’t be looked at any other way.