Growth Hormone Linked to Adverse Effects

Published Online: Saturday, February 1, 2003

Growth hormone (GH) supplementation increases lean body mass and decreases fat in older women and men, but it also increases the risk of complications such as diabetes and glucose intolerance, according to a report in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Researchers evaluated the effects of 26 weeks of GH and sex steroids (transdermal estradiol plus oral medroxyprogesterone for women; testosterone enanthate for men), alone and in combination in healthy older people aged 65 to 88 years.

Lean body mass increased by 4.3 kg in men and by 2.1 kg in women taking GH plus sex steroids. Men and women taking GH alone or in combination with sex steroids also lost a significant amount of fat. Strength and cardiovascular endurance increased significantly in men taking GH plus testosterone, but not in women. Subjects receiving GH, however, had an increased risk for diabetes or glucose intolerance, peripheral edema, and carpal tunnel syndrome.

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