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Growth hormone, sex steroid combination 'not ready for prime time'

In the first study of the separate and combined effects of growth hormone and sex steroids in healthy older men and women, investigators found that growth hormone replacement substantially increased lean body mass and decreased fat mass in both sexes. In combination with testosterone, growth hormone significantly improved cardiovascular endurance in older men. But the researchers also reported a number of side effects, including an increased incidence of glucose intolerance and diabetes among men, which raise important questions about the safety of using growth hormone alone or in combination with other treatments that are often touted as so-called "anti-aging" therapies.

"Although this study suggests that growth hormone or related substances, particularly given in combination with testosterone in older men, may one day be a promising therapeutic agent in the treatment of certain age-related conditions, it is not ready for prime time," said Marc R. Blackman, M.D., the study's lead investigator. "There is much that we still don't know about its efficacy and, more importantly, there are too many known and potential adverse consequences associated with it. It is a fascinating and promising area of research, but at this time we can't recommend it for use outside of a carefully controlled and monitored clinical trial."

The study*, published in the November 13, 2002 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), was conducted jointly by investigators from the National Institute on Aging (NIA) Intramural Research Program and investigators from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, supported by grants from the NIA and the National Center Research Resources.

Human growth hormone (hGH) is made by the pituitary gland, a pea-sized structure located at the base of the brain, and is important for normal development and maintenance of tissues and organs. Testosterone and estrogen, two important sex steroids, work
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12-Nov-2002


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