Anti-Aging Miracle: Hype Or Hope?
Chester J. Zelasko, Ph.D. | August 7, 2001

The Newsletters are driven by what's in the news and what's on your minds. Lately it's been emails and websites that promise youth and vitality in a pill or a spray. While most people want to live as long as they can, they also want to remain vibrant and active all the days they live. This has led to the proliferation of products that promise a reversal of aging through the use of Human Growth Hormone (HGH) or products that stimulate HGH production in the body. What do you need to consider before trying these products?

HGH is manufactured by the pituitary gland and is one of the hormones responsible for exactly what the name says: growth. It helps build bones and muscle, as well as influencing protein, carbohydrate, and lipid metabolism. Levels peak after puberty and then decline as we get older. As HGH levels decrease, muscle mass decreases, body fat increases, and metabolism slows.

The question seems simple: can you reverse the effects of aging if you administer HGH to humans? In a study conducted in 1990, elderly men taking HGH had increased lean muscle mass and bone mass, and lower body fat (1). The texture of their skin also improved to a more youthful appearance--who wouldn't want that?

Since that early study, many studies have been conducted to see whether HGH would reverse aging, using either natural HGH collected from animal organs or genetically engineered recombinant-DNA HGH. While some of the markers of aging can be modified, the bottom line as of this date: there is still not enough information to decide whether HGH should be approved for anti-aging.

HGH is considered a drug and can only be obtained with a physician's prescription. That hasn't stopped companies from marketing HGH and HGH-stimulating products. HGH therapy under a doctor's supervision is expensive, with costs running almost $20,000 per year. Lately, products have been introduced that claim they contain genetically engineered HGH, along with amino acids and sugars designed to stimulate the production of HGH. Because these are substances that are under FDA regulations, either the companies are circumventing the law, or the product does not contain actual HGH.

As for the products that claim to stimulate the production of HGH by providing a combination of amino acids, the published research is less than encouraging. The concept is a reasonable one: select the amino acids that make up HGH and give them to people in high amounts. The problem is that there is no indication that providing the proper amino acids stimulates hormone production, as evidenced in a study of body builders (2). There is also the potential for undesirable side effects. For example, researchers provided marathon runners with the amino acid arginine and examined effects related to metabolism of proteins (3). Not only did the supplement not stimulate the production of HGH or related factors, it suppressed metabolism of other amino acids. This amino-acid cocktail may yet prove to be beneficial, but there is little evidence so far that it's worth the expense.

Here's another point to ponder: what if the decline in HGH is a natural part of the aging process that is beneficial in some way? How could it be beneficial? Perhaps it's a form of protection against tumors and other diseases that rely on rapid cell growth. One of the warnings against the use of HGH is for people who have tumors or suspect they have tumors. The HGH won't discriminate and may cause the rapid growth of those cells as well.

Where does that leave you? Talk with your doctor--he or she is in the best position to guide you. Remember, HGH hasn't been approved for anti-aging yet and it's expensive. Most importantly, get back to the basics: eat less, exercise more, and avoid exposure to age-promoters such as cigarettes and direct sunlight.

One of the proven ways to stimulate production of HGH is to exercise vigorously (4). Want to do things naturally? There is nothing more natural than exercise. If the fountain of youth exists, it just may be exercise.

References:

  1. Rudman D, et al. Effects Of Human Growth Hormone In Men Over 60 Years Old. N Engl J Med 323(1):1-6, 1990.
  2. Lambert MI, et. L. Failure of commercial oral amino acid supplements to increase serum growth hormone concentrations in male body-builders. Int J Sport Nutr 3(3):298-305. 1993.
  3. Colombani PC, et. Al. Chronic arginine aspartate supplementation in runners reduces total plasma amino acid level at rest and during a marathon run. Eur J Nutr 38(6):263-70. 1999.
  4. Pritzlaff CJ, et. Al. Catecholamine release, growth hormone secretion, and energy expenditure during exercise vs. recovery in men. J Appl Physiol 89(3):937-46. 2000.
BBBOnLine Reliability Seal © 2011 Better Life Unlimited™
A division of Better Life Institute © (BLI, Inc.)
 Contact Us  |  Privacy Policy
SecurityMetrics Credit Card Safe