The pituitary gland produces growth hormone, which helps maintain organs, muscle growth, brain function, energy, metabolism, and tissues, as well as fueling the body’s natural growth. For people who have growth hormone deficiency, injections of synthetic growth hormone can increase muscle mass and bone density, decrease muscle fat, and increase exercise capacity. One of the only other reasons human growth hormone is prescribed is to combat muscle wasting due to the effects of HIV and
AIDS. The FDA has very strict definitions of who can be prescribed HGH and what formulations can be used. Under the 1990 Anabolic Steroids Control Act, any distribution or possession of HGH with intent to sell for purposes not authorized by the Secretary of Health and Human Services is a felony. Although the FDA has banned human growth hormone for bodybuilding and weight loss, web sites still sell HGH over the internet. In sporting events like the Olympics, officials test for HGH and will disqualify anyone who tests positive. Since the 90’s, companies have been touting HGH as a miracle cure-all, one that can stop and even reverse aging, build muscle, destroy fat, and provide the user with a youthful vigor. These claims, for the most part,have been unsubstantiated.
An early study done by the New England Journal of Medicine found that adult males who were treated with HGH gained muscle mass and lost fat mass. The study was limited and the results were denounced by the journal because of the amount of shady web companies using the results to sell their products. Subsequent studies could not replicate the original results. Still, the study remains the most quoted by web sites selling HGH for weight loss. Further studies concluded that HGH was ineffective in
treating obesity. Currently, there are no studies that measure the long-term effects or safety of HGH usage. The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists does not recommend the use of HGH for weight loss. Web companies routinely sell HGH in the form of powders or pills. This would render the HGH useless, since HGH, when not injected, is broken down by stomach acids before it can be effective. HGH also has a
range of side effects including joint pain, muscle pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, insulin resistance, and swelling in the arms and legs. These symptoms are especially profound in the elderly and can be potentially dangerous. The FTC has joined with a district court judge to put a stop to web companies who send emails advertising the sale of HGH weight-loss products. The FTC purports that the claims made by the companies are false and are not supported by evidence. In tests done by the FDA, drugsbought over the internet were of unknown quality and potentially dangerous. Drugs not approved by the FDA could contain dangerous additives and/or contaminated or expired product, and, as with most medications, there is a risk that the medication bought from a web site might interact negatively with a user’s current medication. Despite the crack down from various heath officials, web companies
continue to sell HGH for weight loss and anti-aging purposes. The FDA continues to rally against these companies and has taken steps to better educate the public about online drug scams.
Web MD – webmd.com
Mayo Clinic – mayoclinic.com
Consumer Affairs – consumeraffairs.com
Food and Drug Administration – fda.gov