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Senior Health

HGH as anti-aging therapy

02/28/2007

Question:

My sister-in-law is permanently in a nursing home following a stroke a few years back. She is very gullible and vulnerable to every health care scam that turns up in her e-mail. She`s 65 years old. She recently got a message about human growth hormone being used to restore youth and vitality, and she asked me to check into it. I can remember this being a topic on the health news some years back, but now all I can locate about it is advertising from the outfits that are selling it. I`m aware that there are some dubious clinics who are pushing this as an anti-aging measure. What are the facts? Especially, what are the side effects and medical risks? Thanks for your help.

Answer:

Hello. Thanks for this great question. There is NO evidence that HGH is the "fountain of youth". This substance must be injected and has a variety of side effects. There are few research studies completed and these have yielded minimal benefits. Most research involves studies of people with growth hormone deficiencies. At this point, the side effects (disadvantages) far outweigh any small benefits (advantages).

Some of the side effects include: swelling in arms/legs, arthritis-type symptoms, headaches, muscle pain, diabetes, hardening of the arteries, high blood pressure. More study is needed to discover the long-term effects of HGH in older adults. More study is needed.

The potential short-term side effects with HGH listed above are not beneficial to anyone, especially for someone who has already experienced a stroke. I strongly suggest that your sister in law discuss this and ANY therapies with her doctor PRIOR to taking anything that is advertised on email or anywhere else.

Taking simple steps, such as eating a diet full of fruits and vegetables and exercising daily will keep the body in better shape and may help her feel better about herself as she gets older.

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Response by:

Evelyn L Fitzwater, DSN, RN Evelyn L Fitzwater, DSN, RN
Associate Professor Emerita
Associate Director of the
College of Nursing
University of Cincinnati