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HUMAN GROWTH HORMONE

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					                         HUMAN GROWTH HORMONE
       HUMAN GROWTH HORMONE
       WHAT IS IT AND DOES IT WORK




HUMAN GROWTH HORMONE
WHAT IS IT AND DOES IT WORK


Human growth hormone has a remarkable ability to generate controversy, exactly what it
does for athletes, both good and bad, is as much of a mystery today as when it first found
favor as a performance booster during the 1990s.
“That’s uncharted territory,― said Richard J. Auchus, a professor of endocrinology at
University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas. “We just don’t know what
happens when people use high doses for long periods of time.―
H.G.H. is among the drugs prescribed by Anthony Galea, a Toronto-based sports medicine
physician who was charged by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police last week with, among
other things, conspiring to smuggle it into the United States. H.G.H. is legal in Canada but
approved in the United States for only a few specific uses that do not include hastening
recovery from injuries.
Galea has treated a number of elite athletes, including Tiger Woods, the sprinter Donovan
Bailey and the swimmer Dara Torres, and is being investigated by American authorities for
supplying performance-enhancing drugs to athletes in the United States. Both Galea and his
lawyer have strongly rejected that allegation and dispute the Canadian charges.
Galea told The New York Times before being charged that he had never given an athlete
growth hormone. But he acknowledged that he prescribed the drug to some patients at his
Toronto clinic who were at least 40 and fatigued. Galea, 50, is such a believer in its
restorative powers that he said he had injected the hormone into his body five days a week
for the last decade.
But physicians and medical researchers who have studied people with medical conditions
that lead to growth hormone overproduction said that available evidence suggested that
athletes who cheat by using costly H.G.H. may simply wind up being cheated themselves.
Advances in genetics, however, allowed biotechnology companies to clone and market
several hormones, including H.G.H., beginning in the 1990s. Those products swiftly found
an illicit following among athletes. H.G.H. is considered a performance-enhancer in sports,
and the World Anti-Doping Agency subsequently banned it.
The hormones came with a long list of side effects. For H.G.H., they include cardiovascular
problems, an increased risk of diabetes, arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, glucose
intolerance, colon polyps, skin growths, excessive sweating and serious headaches. Heavy
and prolonged growth hormone use can lead to abnormal bone growth in the face, head,
hands and feet. It is widely suspected, but not proved, that excessive H.G.H. may promote
cancers.


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Despite Galea’s practice for older patients, growth hormone injections ultimately leave users
fatigued, said Auchus, who acts as the Endocrine Society’s spokesman on hormone abuse.
“Rather than being some fountain of youth, the older you are the less you tend to benefit,―
Auchus said.
The United States determined that potential harm from H.G.H. is so great that federal law
puts it in an unusual category of drugs that doctors cannot prescribe for unapproved, or off-
label, uses. (No such ban exists in Canada.) Its approved uses are not conditions common
among professional athletes: it can be used in children with severe growth problems, H.I.V.
patients may receive it if they have muscle wasting, and it can be prescribed to offset
exceptional weight loss in people who have had much of their small intestine surgically
removed.
When it came to doping, the new hormones had an attractive feature. Because they are
clones of natural hormones, they were invisible to antidoping tests that relied on looking for
chemical abnormalities in urine samples. Although a blood test for H.G.H. was subsequently
developed, it has not been highly effective. Rogol said that it only worked if the test subject
had injected H.G.H. shortly before being asked for a sample.
Some of the cloned hormones unquestionably enhance performance. Erythropoietin, or
EPO, boosts red blood cells, offering athletes in endurance sports significant gains in speed
and endurance.
The possible gains from H.G.H. use are more varied and far less proven.
Auchus said that it reduces body fat and increases lean muscle mass, which are desirable
not just for body building, where growth hormone abuse is believed to be widespread, but in
a variety of other sports, including cycling, where leanness boosts results. But, like
everything, there is debate about the full extent of that effect.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that some athletes use H.G.H. to increase muscle mass. But
Auchus and Rogol said that there was considerable research showing that such gains were
modest.
One key difficulty in determining what an individual performance-enhancing drug brings to
an athlete, Rogol said, is that few people involved in doping use just a single treatment. That
opens up the potential for complex interactions




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Description: HUMAN GROWTH HORMONE WHAT IS IT AND DOES IT WORK Human growth hormone has a remarkable ability to generate controversy, exactly what it does for athletes, both good and bad, is as much of a mystery today as when it first found favor as a performance booster during the 1990s. “That’s uncharted territory,” said Richard J. Auchus, a professor of endocrinology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas. “We just don’t know what happens when people use high doses for long periods of time.” H.G.H. is among the drugs prescribed by Anthony Galea, a Toronto-based sports medicine physician who was charged by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police last week with, among other things, conspiring to smuggle it into the United States. H.G.H. is legal in Canada but approved in the United States for only a few specific uses that do not include hastening recovery from injuries. Galea has treated a number of elite athletes, including Tiger Woods, the sprinter Donovan Bailey and the swimmer Dara Torres, and is being investigated by American authorities for supplying performance-enhancing drugs to athletes in the United States. Both Galea and his lawyer have strongly rejected that allegation and dispute the Canadian charges. Galea told The New York Times before being charged that he had never given an athlete growth hormone. But he acknowledged that he prescribed the drug to some patients at his Toronto clinic who were at least 40 and fatigued. Galea, 50, is such a believer in its restorative powers that he said he had injected the hormone into his body five days a week for the last decade. But physicians and medical researchers who have studied people with medical conditions that lead to growth hormone overproduction said that available evidence suggested that athletes who cheat by using costly H.G.H. may simply wind up being cheated themselves. Advances in genetics, however, allowed biotechnology compa