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
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.