Growth Hormone Does Not Enhance Athletic Performance

March 18, 2008

Growth hormone increases lean body mass but probably does not enhance athletic performance, according to research published online March 17 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

TUESDAY, March 18 (HealthDay News) -- Growth hormone increases lean body mass but probably does not enhance athletic performance, according to research published online March 17 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Hau Liu, M.D., of Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in San Jose, Calif., and colleagues conducted a meta-analysis of 44 articles comprising 303 subjects in 27 unique study samples from randomized, controlled trials of growth hormone. The studies represented 13.3 person-years of treatment. Study participants had a mean age of 27 years, a mean body mass index of 24 kg/m2 and a maximum oxygen uptake of 51 mL/kg of body weight per minute. The subjects took a mean 36 μg/kg per day dose of growth hormone for a mean 20 days, although there was variation across the different studies in terms of dosage and duration.

Treatment with growth hormone increased lean body mass by 2.1 kg but had no impact on strength and exercise capacity, and increased lactate levels during exercise, the investigators found. Participants treated with growth hormone were more likely to have soft tissue edema and fatigue than the control subjects, they report.

"Claims that growth hormone enhances physical performance are not supported by the scientific literature. Although the limited available evidence suggests that growth hormone increases lean body mass, it may not improve strength; in addition, it may worsen exercise capacity and increase adverse events," the authors conclude."

Several co-authors report financial ties to pharmaceutical companies.

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