What is growth hormone?
Growth hormone, also called human growth hormone, is a naturally occurring substance that is made by your pituitary gland and then released into the bloodstream.
The pituitary gland is a small organ that is located in the center of your brain and makes hormones. Growth hormone is essential for normal growth and development in children. Growth hormone also helps regulate metabolism in both children and adults.
There is also a manufactured form of growth hormone (recombinant GH). This form of growth hormone is used to treat children and adults with growth disorders. It may also be used as an illegal method for enhancing athletic performance.
Why is growth hormone used by athletes?
Growth hormone appears to offer athletes many advantages. The hormone reduces body fat and increases strength. It also helps muscles work more efficiently. The body also recovers more quickly when someone is taking growth hormone. This lets athletes develop muscle strength faster than normal. They can also recover faster from injuries.
What are the side effects of using growth hormone?
More research is needed on the long-term effects of taking growth hormone. Side effects may include:
- Tingling sensation.
- Changes in vision.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome.
- High cholesterol levels.
- Breast enlargement.
If growth hormone is abused, levels are often too high in the body. Some studies suggest that it may cause serious side effects, including:
This is a medical condition that can result from taking too much growth hormone. The result is larger hands and feet. It even causes changes to the face, including a larger jaw, nose, and brow.
Your body may not be able to get rid of extra fluid through urination. This creates added stress on the kidneys, blood vessels, and heart.
Enlarged internal organs
Abnormal growth of organs—such as your heart, kidneys, and liver—can also occur with long-term use of growth hormone. Over time, this can affect the function of the organs. Growth hormone abuse may cause heart, kidney, and liver failure.
Women who have regularly used growth hormone for athletic training have reported irregularities in their menstrual cycles. Excess growth hormone in men may cause a decrease in testicular size and sexual function.
Excess growth hormone may cause abnormal glucose metabolism in the body. As a result, you may eventually develop diabetes.
Illnesses associated with unsafe needle use
Growth hormone is often injected. Using needles may increase your risk of hepatitis, HIV, and other illnesses.
What do I need to know about growth hormone use?
Growth hormone deficiency is a real medical condition in many children and adults. If your health care provider has diagnosed this condition, take growth hormone only as instructed.
There are many problems with using growth hormone to enhance your athletic performance. Along with the physical side effects, its use in competition is considered an unfair advantage. It is on the list of banned substances for nearly all athletic leagues and competitions.