Growth Hormone Doesn’t Help Healthy Older Adults

I’ve written before about the popular antiaging trend in healthcare.  Another medication that has been widely touted as an antiaging remedy is growth hormone (GH).  It has been shown to be beneficial in certain diseases (especially GH deficiency) but has also been recommended by some to healthy older people to increase muscle mass, improve bone density, and “reverse aging”.

A systematic review of randomized studies of GH in healthy older adults in today’s issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine examines this issue.  The results have been widely reported in the general press, including this L.A. Times article, and this article in Forbes.

The study found no significant benefit from GH, but several serious side effects, including soft tissue fluid retention, carpal tunnel syndrome, joint pain, and, in men, breast tissue enlargement.

The authors of the study conclude:

“Use of GH as an antiaging therapy is widespread and has been advocated in the lay press and in scientific literature. Our analysis shows that this practice is not supported by a robust evidence base, offers little clinical benefit to the healthy elderly, and is associated with high rates of adverse events.”

This week there are three brief items of Tangential Miscellany:

There will not be a medical news post next week.  The posts will resume the week of January 29.

The Pedometer Project starts on February 1.  Folks are still signing up.  Send me an email if you’d like to join.

Finally, a year ago this week I posted my first weekly medical news post.  I’m very grateful for all the helpful feedback and encouragement about the posts that many of you have given me.  I’ll try to continue to keep you informed, motivated, and healthy in the next year.

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