YOU ASKED, WE ANSWERED: Human Growth Hormone Questions Answered

Hellman: The question as to whether medications that are commonly given for ADHD can cause growth problems is one that has been studied carefully worldwide. It appears that the effect of methylphenidate and related medications on height is relatively small, but there are many reasons other than the medication itself that may have influenced your son's growth. I would encourage you to discuss with the health care team that is caring for your son, and particularly a pediatrician or pediatric endocrinologist, who can help clarify what the best steps to take for your son would be.

Question: The presence of this topic in the media fuels ever more hype and sensationalism. I have searched JAMA and the NEJM, finding only the references to the studies performed on a small population of elderly men in the 90s. Since that study, there has been a proliferation of clinics organized by physicians promoting anti-aging via cocktails of HGH and other hormone replacements. These clinics make claims which I cannot find any supportive scientific evidence for. More disturbing, however, is the fact that there is no evidence to refute these claims.

Besides the initial studies which showed a small increases in muscle mass and in lean body mass, are there well-designed, peer-reviewed studies which demonstrate any positive effects for HGH? Do people feel better, are there effects on skin and connective tissues? On the negative side, can there be conditions brought about by the use of HGH? There are so many questions out there without answers, the truth is unknown and the public is gullible, they will follow the hype. I could go on but I think you understand my question.

Groh D.D.S. from Oak Brook, Illinois

Hellman: Dr. Groh makes the excellent point that the studies that have been done on the use of HGH have shown relatively modest increases in muscle mass and in lean body mass, but nothing like the extravagant claims made by those who claim anti-aging benefits, and the quality of life claims made by many others.

While it is true that a person who is proven by testing to be deficient in Human Growth Hormone feels much better when they receive adequate replacement, there is also evidence that the risks outweigh the benefit for those who take large amounts of HGH when they already have growth hormone production in their body. It is hard to avoid being moved by people who genuinely believe that growth hormone treatment can help many people who do not feel 100 percent, but the fact is that the scientific evidence overwhelmingly shows that growth hormone therapy is safe and effective for those already proven to be deficient, and in a few other medical settings, but for most of us, it is unwise to use, disappointing in the results, and a waste of time and money.

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