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Originally published September 23 2008

Growth Hormone Does Not Boost Athletic Performance, Says Medical Report

by David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) Taking human growth hormone does not boost athletic performance but does lead to negative health effects, according to a study conducted by researchers from Stanford University and published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Researchers reviewed the results of 27 prior studies on a total of 303 people between the ages of 13 and 45. They found that while taking artificial growth hormone did lead to a change in body composition, namely an increase in lean body mass, this change did not lead to increased strength or endurance.

Human growth hormone has been shown to increase strength in people with tumors of the pituitary gland or other hormonal conditions, but there is no evidence that it can do so in healthy people. On the contrary, the evidence suggests that taking growth hormone might actually decrease an athlete's endurance.

The researchers found that people taking the hormone generated more lactate while exercising, a chemical that has been linked to increased muscle pain and fatigue. In one study, two participants had to stop a cycling workout due to fatigue.

In addition, many people taking the hormone experienced tissue swelling.

Researcher Andrew Hoffman noted that the side effects of human growth hormone in athletes are probably more severe than indicated by the study.

"Athletes probably take much more hormone than the investigators felt that they could ethically try to give to healthy people," he said. "In addition, some athletes combine growth hormone with other anabolic hormones like testosterone."

Side effects from higher doses can include joint pain and fluid accumulation in the legs, he said.

The researchers noted that other kinds of hormones, such as testosterone, have indeed been shown to improve athletic performance, but that those treatments also carry serious risks.

"From what we hear, the athletes are taking very, very large doses," Hoffman said.

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