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Human growth hormone (HGH): Does it slow aging?

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Growth hormone helps to maintain tissues and organs throughout life and fuels childhood growth. It’s secreted by the pea-sized pituitary gland which is located at the base of the brain. The pituitary gland though slowly decreases the amount of growth hormone it produces from the start of middle age.

This process of natural decrease of the growth hormones has generated an interest in humans to use synthetic human growth hormone (HGH) to stop some changes related to aging, such as decreased bone and muscle mass. But as per studies and research there is not much evidence in suggesting HGH may help otherwise healthy adults regain vitality and youth. HGH treatments may enhance the risk of other medical conditions, alternatively. Some experts even have recommended against using HGH to treat aging or age-related conditions.

Do some adults need HGH treatment?

Adults who suffer from growth hormone deficiency, not the natural decline in growth hormone due to aging — can be prescribed synthetic HGH by their doctors. In majority of people, deficiency of growth hormone can be caused by a benign tumor on the pituitary gland or by treatment of an adenoma with radiotherapy or surgery.

Injections of HGH can help for adults who have a growth hormone deficiency, in the following ways:

  • Increase exercise capacity
  • Increase bone density
  • Increase muscle mass
  • Decrease body fat

Adults with AIDS- or HIV-related growth hormone deficiency which results in irregular distribution of body fat can also be treated with injectable HGH. Only in the United States HGH treatment is approved for treatment of growth hormone deficiency — and related problems associated with HIV infection. It is also believed that HGH is effective if administered as an injection over pills or powder form. Generally pill form of human growth hormone is not available, but some dietary supplements claiming to boost levels of HGH come in pill form, though research reveals that it doesn’t have a benefit.

Food and Drug Administration has labelled HGH as a controlled substance. Use of HGH for a condition like building muscle or as an anti-aging treatment in older adults, is not legal as of now.

The bottom line:

Ask your doctor about proven ways to improve your health if you have specific concerns about slowdown of aging. This may or may not involve the use of HGH. But remember that healthy lifestyle choices can help you feel your best as you get older.

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