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Entries in HGH (3)

Wednesday
Nov232011

Major League Baseball to Test Players for Human Growth Hormone

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) -- Major League Baseball drew praise from anti-doping advocates Tuesday when it announced it would become the nation's first professional league to test for human growth hormone.

Under the league's new five-year labor agreement, players must submit to random blood tests for HGH -- a naturally occurring substance used by some athletes to build muscle mass and speed the recovery from injury.

"I think it sends an important message that Major League Baseball doesn't accept athletes using HGH," said Dr. Andrew Gregory, an assistant professor of orthopedic surgery and rehabilitation at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. "If it's illegal and the pros aren't doing it, kids will see that."

HGH can be obtained legally only with a prescription.

Under the agreement, which still has to be ratified by both sides, ballplayers who test positive in the off-season or during spring training will be suspended for 50 games -- the same punishment doled out to steroid abusers. There is no agreement yet on in-season testing.

The announcement was applauded by the World Anti-Doping Agency as a positive development in the fight against doping in sports.

"MLB has shown leadership by becoming the first of the major professional sports in North America to accept that it needs to protect both its athletes and its sport by introducing HGH testing," agency president John Fahey said in a statement. "We need as much blood sampling conducted for HGH as possible, and MLB has set an example for the other major sports to follow."

The National Football League announced a similar screening program in August, but players have yet to agree to the testing and appeals process.

Because it's a natural compound, HGH is harder to detect than other performance-enhancing drugs like steroids. But a blood test introduced at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens homes in on subtle differences between the body's own hormone and the injectable version.

Produced by the pea-size pituitary gland deep inside the brain, HGH stimulates the growth of muscles, bones and organs during development. Some children require a prescription for HGH if their bodies produce too little.

But in adulthood, hormone production usually tapers off, preventing dangerous overgrowth of the heart, liver and other organs. Too much HGH in adulthood has been linked to diabetes, high blood pressure, joint swelling and nerve pain. But some athletes seek out HGH despite the risks.

"People are willing to accept pretty major side effects to get the results they're looking for," said Gregory.

And when they obtain it illegally, athletes risk injecting something other than HGH.

"There's the danger you're getting an impure product because you're not getting it from a pharmacy," said Gregory. "I have had high school athletes and parents ask me about using HGH to get bigger and taller because they want to get to the next level in their sport. Of course, I don't give it to them. But that doesn't mean they're not getting it somewhere else."

Blood-testing for HGH is more expensive and more invasive than urine testing for steroids, making it hard for high schools, colleges and minor leagues to set up. However, Minor League Baseball started testing for HGH in 2010.

The MLB agreement does not yet include HGH testing during the regular season and playoffs, leaving open a dangerous loophole, said Gregory.

"For drug testing to be effective, you have to be able to test anybody, anywhere, any time," said Gregory. "If you can't test during regular season, players will easily work around that."

The league said it would explore in-season testing cautiously, after ensuring it doesn't interfere with players' health and safety.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Aug092011

Is Human Growth Hormone the 'Fountain of Youth'?

Jeffrey Hamilton/Lifesize/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Human growth hormone is the so-called fountain of youth, and many celebrities are fans.

Actress Suzanne Somers calls it "sex in a capsule."  Actor Nick Nolte calls it "a systems repair" for the body, and actor Sylvester Stallone used it to get buff for his role in the movie Rambo IV.  Some sports superstars have even gotten themselves into legal trouble for allegedly using it to enhance their performance.

But human growth hormone, or hGH, is not just for celebrities anymore.  Ordinary Americans are turning to the product that many proponents claim turns back the clock on aging, builds muscle mass and strengthens bones.  The hormone is illegal if used for anti-aging and can only be prescribed by a doctor if a patient's blood test shows hormone levels that are too low.

Former NFL player Ed Lothamer and his wife, Beth, started injecting hGH about eight years ago after their doctor legally prescribed it.  They said that when they hit middle age, they just weren't feeling like themselves anymore.

"I think the older you get, the more depressed you get and the golden years are really the rusty years," Beth Lothame, 64, told ABC's Good Morning America.

Within months of starting the injections, they noticed a big change, including better skin and a spiced-up sex life.

HGH occurs naturally in the body.  It promotes growth in children and diminishes with age.  But people like Beth Lothamer have been injecting it back into their bodies.

Her regimen includes exercise, eating healthy and taking hGH and other medications, including melatonin and progesterone.  For her husband, 69, it's testosterone.  The hGH costs $150 per bottle and the Kansans spend between $8,000 and $10,000 a year on all their medications.

Ed Lothamer says he feels 20 years younger.  And his wife said she feels as though she's in her 40s.  She says she sleeps much better and runs three miles a day.

A study in the New England Journal of Medicine even backs up some of their claims, finding that men who took hGH for six months reduced their body fat by more than 14 percent and increased muscle mass by 8.8 percent.

Results like those only come, however, when hGH is injected as prescribed, not when applied through the creams and lotions also advertised as hGH and available on the market.  But the practice of injecting hGH is highly controversial and potentially risky.

"Growth hormone has a number of dangerous side effects, primarily diabetes," Dr. Thomas Perls of Boston Medical Center told GMA.  "It increases blood sugar and can cause diabetes.  It can also cause a swelling of the joints, enlargement of organs, hypertension, sometimes breathing problems."

HGH has even caused cancer in mice.

The Lothamers are examined by their doctors every three to five months to make sure their hormone levels are balanced. They say any potential risks are worth the transformation they've experienced.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Aug082011

NFL to Become First Professional Sports League to Test for HGH

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The National Football League earned the support of anti-doping experts worldwide when it announced under its new labor agreement that it will become the nation's first professional sports league to blood-test players for human growth hormone (HGH).

As part of the new 10-year collective bargaining agreement with the NFL players union, NFL players would face unlimited unannounced blood tests for HGH -- a naturally-occurring performance enhancer used to build stronger muscles and stave off training fatigue.

Under the terms of the labor agreement, the league must still meet with the players to determine the specific testing guidelines. But as long as players and team owners can agree on the details of the testing and appeals process, the screening program will begin Sept. 8.

The move has been applauded by the World Anti-Doping Agency as a positive development in the fight against doping in sport.

"It is vital that HGH testing is increased and the NFL's example will hopefully encourage other sports federations to follow suit," World Anti-Doping Agency director general David Howman said in a statement.

Because it's a natural compound, HGH is harder to detect than other performance-enhancing drugs like steroids. But a blood test introduced at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens hones in on subtle differences between the body's own hormone and the injectable version.

First-time offenders would face a four-game suspension without pay, according to a league spokesman -- the same punishment endured by steroid abusers.

Proponents hope the move will send a message to athletes in other major and minor leagues, and even little leagues, that doping doesn't pay.

"I think it's a great first step for a professional organization to take a stand and say, 'We want to do the right thing and not have our athletes taking this,'" said Dr. Alex Diamond, a sports medicine doctor at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn. "Their influence on young athletes carries a lot more weight than what a doctor or parent has to say."

Produced by the pea-sized pituitary gland deep inside the brain, HGH stimulates the growth of muscles, bones and organs during development. But in adulthood, hormone production usually tapers off, preventing dangerous overgrowth of the heart, liver and other organs. Using HGH to bulk up is not only unethical, Diamond said, it's dangerous.

"The side effects are what we worry about," said Diamond, describing the life-threatening enlargement of the heart and the disfiguring growth of hands and facial features associated with HGH abuse. "Getting rid of HGH will not only benefit the sport, but also the athletes in general and their overall health."

Most of the HGH testing would be random and unannounced, according to a league spokesman.

Random screening would be unlimited throughout the season, but would be limited to six tests during the offseason, according to a league spokesman.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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