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Associated Press

A look at human growth hormone's uses and risks


CHICAGO - Human growth hormone is being studied by researchers but remains unproven as a youth elixir.

TIME TO GROW: The pituitary gland produces HGH, which helps children grow and is important for maintenance of tissues and organs.

HORMONE SHOTS: Pharmaceutical HGH has legitimate purposes such as treating wasting syndrome in AIDS patients and more questionable ones such as increasing muscle mass in athletes.

BIG BUSINESS: Prescription sales totaled $622 million in 2004, mostly via mail orders. Cost for an individual can be $500 a month, depending on dose.

INJECTABLE: HGH is injected into the abdomen or thigh.

SIDE EFFECTS: Diabetes, raised cholesterol levels, heightened blood pressure, joint problems, swelling and carpal tunnel syndrome have been linked to HGH in studies.

CLAIMS: Researchers find that HGH increases muscle mass and decreases body fat. Some doctors and patients say it increases energy, libido and makes people feel younger.


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Information in this article was accurate in March 19, 2006. The state of the art may have changed since the publication date. This material is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your doctor. Always discuss treatment options with a doctor who specializes in treating HIV.