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Growth hormone illegal for off-label anti-aging use, study warns

Because of 1988 and 1990 amendments to the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, off-label distribution or provision of human growth hormone to treat aging or age-associated illnesses is illegal in the United States, according to a report in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The findings, which were peer-reviewed by independent experts and by the journal's legal counsel, appear in the Oct. 26 issue.

A team of three noted health researchers revealed a largely unknown and unenforced law that thousands of entrepreneurs and physicians are breaking. The authors are Dr. Thomas Perls, director of the New England Centenarian Study at Boston Medical Center and associate professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine; Dr. Neal Reisman, clinical professor of plastic surgery at Baylor College of Medicine and associate chief of plastic surgery at St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital, who is also an attorney; and S. Jay Olshansky, professor of epidemiology at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health.

Human growth hormone, or HGH, is a substance released by the pituitary gland that spurs growth and development in children and adolescents. As a drug, it can be prescribed legally only for three rare conditions: HGH deficiency-related syndromes that cause short stature in children, adult HGH deficiency due to rare pituitary tumors and their treatment, and muscle-wasting disease associated with HIV/AIDS. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, any and all other uses of the drug, including the off-label use as an alleged treatment for aging and its related conditions, are illegal.

But many Web sites and anti-aging clinics market HGH with claims that the hormone stops and reverses aging and provides many other benefits, including improved nail and hair growth, better sleep, improved skin tone, better digestion, increased strength, weight loss, better eyesight and enhanced sexual function.

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Contact: Sherri McGinnis Gonzalez
smcginn@uic.edu
312-996-8277
University of Illinois at Chicago
25-Oct-2005


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