When it comes to athlete usage of synthetic HGHs, there is a lot of debate as to whether they are safe for the environment, and the users themselves. Whether to use artificial/synthetic HGH (Human Growth Hormones) or not, remains controversial even after 30 years of its launch. It is a debatable topic and over the years, there has been a lot of fiery discussion about Human Growth Hormone intake, especially in the following sports, like combat sports, bodybuilding, Olympics and American Football.
Before we take a deeper dive for understanding the controversy behind synthetic HGH and its effects on athletic performance, first, let us give you a quick overview of HGH.
To begin with, HGH is a hormone that is produced by our body naturally. This hormone is both synthesized as well as secreted by the cells present in the pituitary gland. It stimulates several metabolic processes in the cells of our body affecting protein, carbohydrate, mineral metabolism and fat. The main role of the Human Growth Hormone is liver stimulation. Once the liver is stimulated, it secretes IGF-I (Insulin-like Growth Factor). The secretion of IGF-I then stimulates cartilage cell production which results in growth of the bones and organs, and also facilitates the synthesis of muscle protein.
Therapeutic Use of Synthetic Human Growth Hormone
Developed in 1985, synthetic HGH has been approved by the FDA for therapeutic use. HGH injections are available with prescription and can be taken to overcome HGH deficiency. Though this is not a common condition, but children and adults alike can develop this problem that may also afflict the pituitary gland, hypothalamus and sometimes even both.
Blood tests may not be useful for diagnosis HGH deficiency. Therefore, to diagnosis adult HGH deficiency, special tests are performed that stimulate HGH production.
The use of HGH injections helps individuals suffering from HGH deficiency stay protected from fractures, experience improvement in their energy levels and muscle mass, and more importantly, have lower risk of developing cardiac related problems. But let’s not forget, HGH injections come with their fair share of side-effects. Surveys show that approximately 30 percent of patients who use HGH injections experience side effects like:
- Muscle and Joint pain
- Fluid Retention
- Numbness in the wrist
- High levels of blood sugar
Now that we have understood what synthetic HGH is and how it does help patients with HGH deficiency, let us look at what research studies say about artificial Human Growth Hormones and why it is surrounded with controversies when it comes to HGH use by athletes:
Researches on Synthetic HGH and Athletic Performance under the Spotlight
Though athletes work hard and undergo rigorous athletic training for muscle and stamina building, some athletes often turn to synthetic human growth hormones in the hopes of better and faster results. The problem doesn’t lie in the usage of HGH; it lies in its abuse. And that’s exactly why leading sports organizations including the IOC (International Olympic Committee), the National Football League, Major League Baseball and WADA (World Anti Doping Agency) have declared the use and abuse of synthetic Human Growth Hormones as illegal. The use of HGH is banned. HGH abuse has tainted sports like cycling, baseball and combat sports. And since it is completely banned, athletes found using Human Growth Hormones are at a risk of being disqualified.
Here’s some research based evidence that may help you understand the reasons why the use of HGH:
According to a study reported on the Health Harvard website, researchers conducted a review in California of forty four high quality studies of human growth hormone in athletes. (1) The subjects of these studies were 27 years of age, psychically fit and lean with an average body mass index of 24. 85 percent of subjects were male. 303 subjects received HGH injections while one hundred and thirty-seven subjects received placebo. They were all given injections for 20 days.
Individuals who received HGH experienced an increase of 4.6 pounds in their lean body-mass but what the results also showed was that there was no significant improvement in their athletic performance. There was no measurable increase in their exercise capacity or strength. In fact, the finding that got the attention of the researchers was that subjects who received HGH retained fluid and experienced fatigue as compared to those who received only placebo. In a nutshell, it showed that there was no impact of HGH on athletic performance. The researchers concluded that if used in isolation HGH does not have any impact on athletic performance however, if and when combined with other performance enhancing drugs, the results may be different.
In contradiction to these results, another study conducted by the researchers at Sydney’s Garvan Institute of Medical Research showed positive effects of Human Growth Hormone on the performance of athletes especially enhancing their sprint capacity.(2) The study proved that the use of HGH among athletes should be banned.
The results of the study by the team of Australian researchers illustrated a 0.4 second sprint improvement in a 10 second sprint which by the way is enough to help a last place athlete competing in Olympics be in swimming or running – turn into a Gold-medal winner.
The study also showed that HGH has the ability to increase the sport athlete’s ability in terms of sprint on a bicycle but had no effects on the athlete’s performance when it comes to fitness, weight-lifting and jumping. The study found that the sprint capacity in athletes can double if they used testosterone injections in combination with Human Growth Hormones. This study by Garvan researchers was based on 103 healthy and fit recreational athletes of ages between 18 and 40.
What Can We Conclude?
Based on the evidence and researches reviewed, we can conclude that the use of synthetic HGH is helpful in overcoming the deficiency of this hormone in the body, but it should not be used by athletes especially those competing in the Olympics to ensure fair play. Also, if the sports organizations like International Olympic Committee have banned it, then the decision of these bodies should be respected by the athletes so that they don’t put themselves at the risk of disqualification and disgrace.