Is Human Growth Hormone safe to use?
July 17, 2004 8:28 AM   Subscribe

Anyone have experience with HGH (the Human Growth Hormone)? My doctor shrugged his shoulders and said, "It's probably fine in moderation" when asked about it, and my Google searches have yielded a junkyard of crappy e-commerce sites and conflicting information. Is any one brand better than the other? Is it snake oil? I had been looking for something to enhance my exercise regimen, but since non-sales-driven info about HGH seems so scarce I'm wondering if I shouldn't consider other options.
posted by dhoyt to Health & Fitness (21 answers total)
It's probably not worth it.
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:57 AM on July 17, 2004

Why are you considering doping instead of diet or a modified regimen or trying something new?
posted by pieoverdone at 9:59 AM on July 17, 2004

Cecil Adams did a column on this just last week.
posted by Johnny Assay at 10:24 AM on July 17, 2004

This is a joke, right? I mean:

1) If you're just looking for "safe steroids", there are obviously like a million other personal issues you should be dealing with first, like why are you working so hard and looking for shortcuts at the same time?

2) If your exercise regimen is not yielding the results you want, then you should either be re-examining your nutrition and exercise plan, or re-thinking what you're really trying to get to (and why).
posted by LairBob at 10:45 AM on July 17, 2004

I really don't mean to be snarky, but even if you're a professional athlete--which I'm assuming from the question you aren't--this is really not the way you want to mess with your body. Not just for the physical risk, but for what using that stuff would say about you, and what you're really trying to do.
posted by LairBob at 10:47 AM on July 17, 2004

No, it wasn't a joke. I'm aware of all the caveats and I'm familiar with the info that Johnny Assay and Mayor Curley passed along, BUT--I'm always still curious about individual experiences, which is why I asked you guys.

For good or ill, I'm a lifelong experimenter with drugs of all purpose and I'm usually fully aware of the dangers. I just wondered if anyone, personally, has seen the intended results. I'm pretty small, as is everyone in my family, and gaining weight & muscle mass is unlikely no matter how much I exercise. Not that that's an important issue in my life or anything, but the contradictory things I've been hearing about HGH piqued my curiousity enough to ask.
posted by dhoyt at 11:08 AM on July 17, 2004

Well, look--I think intellectual curiosity is almost automatically legitimate, and I would say that from its clear predominance on the professional level, that it's likely that HGH produces some real advantage, just like EPO or steroids clearly do. What's more, I really don't want to come across all school-marmy, telling (someone who's presumably) another adult what they can and can't do.

I guess my basic point is that just about all the reasons why someone's fitness and appearance should matter are really a function of their effort and dedication, not what drugs they buy. If someone appears healthy and fit, it's not even a matter of what other people think--they should have greater self-confidence not because they look good, but because they know that they can do what it takes to be in shape.

Just like someone with a crippling disease shouldn't feel bad because they're not able to be in shape, someone who takes a drug to appear more fit or perform better is reaping a benefit that they didn't earn. It's not even that I think that that's somehow "wrong"--I just think doing so has a caustic effect on your character and well-being.

In other words, it's not like I think someone who takes HGH or steroids deserves to go to jail, or deserves to get really sick or die for it. It's just that there's got to be some part of their psyche that understands the essential fraud of what they've done and what they've become, and over the long haul, knowing that about yourself takes a toll. The cost in what you think of yourself, down deep, is almost certainly not going to be worth the ephemeral benefit.
posted by LairBob at 12:29 PM on July 17, 2004

LairBob - your post has a pile of assumptions. vanity is quite enough to make you a "fraud" in the eyes of those that find self respect without going near a gym. at the other end of the spectrum, your high school coach is not the only source of moral values and there's no got in it, at all.
posted by andrew cooke at 1:00 PM on July 17, 2004

Well, sure it has assumptions. I assume most of them are pretty clear, and are indications of my own personal values (without writing an entire treatise).

But even so, I'm not sure what your points are. Of course I certainly didn't mean to imply that taking something like HGH was the only way to short-circuit your self-respect. There are _lots_ of ways to live in "bad faith". What's more, even though I happen to be a former high-school coach, I suspect I might even agree with your second comment if I understood what exactly it meant. ;)

In any case, I really wasn't trying to isolate drug-enhanced athletic performance as a unique ill--I was just trying to clarify to dhoyt where my resistance was coming from...that it's not from moral approbation, but from (what I see as) the intrinsic paradox at the heart of it.
posted by LairBob at 1:17 PM on July 17, 2004

it's not from moral approbation, but from (what I see as) the intrinsic paradox at the heart of it.

Riiiight. You're not being judgemental. Just logical. I see. Your judgements aren't coming from you, they're *intrinsic* to the situation.

I don't think dhoyt is going to be frightened away by your *logic*, although he may pay attention to good research data that illuminates the risks of this product. Look at his question. I also think he's nuts for even considering this, but he is at least trying to be skeptical and learn the facts. I think you've made your thoughts about dhoyt's personal motivations heard. How about moving on and letting his learning process continue?
posted by scarabic at 1:44 PM on July 17, 2004

[Ummm...I'm not sure here, scarabic. Should I respond to your response like I did to dhoyt's and andrew's, or am I just supposed to move along now? ;) ]
posted by LairBob at 1:53 PM on July 17, 2004

Goddammit, will someone actually answer his question instead of wasting good space discussing the moral abiguities of his decision?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:28 PM on July 17, 2004

Ok well ignoring the moralist debate going on:

You'd be better off taking regular steroids if you're going to dope. Consider that steroids have been around since I believe the early sixties (I could be wrong), and their effects are well known and established.

I know people will debate this, but there are a multitude of guides out there and a lot of helpful trainers/doctors who will help you dope properly. I'm not saying longterm steroid use is healthy, but if you want to give yourself an edge taking anabolic steroids correctly and under supervision is not that dangerous.

I have never taken steroids, though I looked into it. I won't touch HGH because long term use and such hasn't shown proven results and side effects. That and I believe since it's a "supplement" it's not FDA regulated, leading to quality issues.

You're an adult who knows the side effects and advantages doping carries. You're probably not a meathead with serious self-image problems (you know the quivering muscle masses at a gym), and even if you are, who cares. It may be a vanity issue, but so is plastic surgery , dieting and any of the other things we do through out the day to make ourselves look better.
posted by geoff. at 4:28 PM on July 17, 2004

I should mention that you may just be a hard gainer. I only looked into steroids (by look into, I mean satisfy my curiosity on all things) because the guys I were working out with got huge while I didn't. Then I realized those guys were indeed doping and was relieve I wasn't working out wrong. I was not an athlete and didn't really feel the need to spend $300 a month just to look good and possibly stunt my growth.

For a confidence booster to yourself, I did get bigger, not to the steroidal size but bigger. If you're looking into HGH I hope you've been working out at least a year.

Oh yeah one more thing from this really rambling comment of mine. I did know several kids who were on HGH for heigh t problems (hey they were my size, I'm now 5'10" but their parents wanted >6'), and now they're tall and kind of chubby. Also they have broad big shoulders and small heads.

This is probably doses way above you'd be taking but it's something to keep in mind. Now I'm positive they were taking HGH but I could be wrong, it may have been another growth hormone that's slipping my mind.
posted by geoff. at 4:35 PM on July 17, 2004

It's less vanity than experimentation and curiousity. You guys may think it's "nuts", but I've had my share of Hunter S. Thompson speeding-down-the-highway-wth-a-cocktail-in-one-hand-and-moutful-of-mescaline moments over the years (not bragging, just painting a picture) that were considerably more reckless than this idea of studiously elevating HGH levels in my body which may or may not cause cancer. I appreciate your feedback, LairBob, but I don't want you to misunderstand my motivations. What I really want to know is: have you, or anyone you know, had experiences with HGH and if so, what's the upshot?

(on preview: thanks geoff)
posted by dhoyt at 4:44 PM on July 17, 2004

Oh, I do understand, dh. (I even understand where scarabic was coming from, but whatever. We can patch things up in the next thread.)

I don't have any personal experience with HGH specifically, but as someone who competed and coached for quite a while I do have a fair amount of experience with folks who have experimented with anabolics or other (supposed) performance-enhancing drugs. That's really where my comments came from.

As usual, it's important to avoid knee-jerk reactions, but to put it simply, I don't know anyone who didn't end up really regretting that choice over the long term--even the ones who tried it in a more "supplemental" fashion, like you're talking about. To me, that's the really important point, even if you take any question of physical risk off the table.
posted by LairBob at 7:08 PM on July 17, 2004

Oh man, what an apropo question for my situation. I've been working out for like 100 years and have considered every supplement that has come down the pike. I've used creatine and ephedra, but never steroids. I'm curious about the HGH too. My specific question would be, "Does it help you to recover from workouts?" I'm 33 now and suffer from soreness all day, every day, and would gladly use a product for the express purpose of helping me recover from a workout. (I just now got out of a bath of epsom salts.)

I think the moral debate is interesting though. There's no reason why that topic can't be broached whle discussing people's personal experiences as they relate directly to the question.
posted by vito90 at 10:25 PM on July 17, 2004

I did know several kids who were on HGH for heigh t problems (hey they were my size, I'm now 5'10" but their parents wanted >6')

I don't wish to be rude or drag this thread off into a tangent, but since when is 5'10" considered a "height problem"? I wasn't aware parents were able to dose their children with HGH merely to add a few inches (did they want their children to play basketball or something?) - my understanding was that it was reserved for those with some sort of medical condition and required for the kids to approach normalcy. I mean, I guess it's a free country and all, but I find casual use of HGH by children to be more than a little unsettling. How soon until every kid on the basketball team is HGH-enhanced?
posted by beth at 12:11 AM on July 18, 2004

Mesomorphosis discuss this and other anabolics in a positive but low-hype way, with references to what literature they can dig up.

Ever noticed how some modern bodybuilding pros have strangely bulging abdomens even though they're clearly cut to hell? (Markus Ruhl is often cited as an example). They call it "roid gut", but HGH is to blame - it's overgrown internal organs. If Andre The Giant style acromegaly doesn't scare, that should.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:49 AM on July 18, 2004

beth, yeah for some reason in my grade school all the parents were crazy that their kids had to grow up to be huge. This is all pre-puberty so I have no idea how they were able to determine final height. Anyway all I know is that out of a class of about 14 boys, 4 were on some kind of growth hormone. They all look awkward, as if they're taller and bigger than they should be. Really hard to explain. My point was that if you want to use my height then and my height now as a predictive indicator of how tall the other kids would have been, they wouldn't have been unusually short. That's all I was saying.
posted by geoff. at 8:42 AM on July 18, 2004

Man, I'm 5' 8", how dare my parents not pump me full of HGH as a child, now I'm a stunted freak.
/faux outrage
geoff. where did you grow up that the parents were that stupid and the doctors that willing to go along with it?
posted by Grod at 10:54 AM on July 18, 2004

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