Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Safety of Growth Hormone and Testosterone

Testosterone is widely believed to be far more dangerous than growth hormone. However, recent research is rapidly showing that much of these dangers have been exaggerated. For instance, the hypothesis that testosterone causes prostate cancer has never been established. In fact, one study even showed a slight negative correlation between testosterone levels and prostate cancer. A study on young men given supra physiologic doses of testosterone showed no change is prostate specific antigen (PSA), which is one measure of prostate cancer risk.

Growth hormone may also be less dangerous to the prostate than previously believed. One study showed strong positive correlation with prostate cancer and IGF-1 levels. Since growth hormone stimulates IGF-1 synthesis in the liver, this study and others bring up the possibility of a link of growth hormone and prostate and breast cancer. Keep in mind that statistical correlations do not necessarily prove causality, i.e. IGF-1 has not yet been proven to be a cancer-causing villain. Actually IGF-11 may be one of the culprits in the cancer story, and not IGF-1. At the Serano sponsored Symposia on the Endocrinology of Aging in October, 1999 and at the Endocrine Society Meeting in June, 1999 there was an informal consensus that patients on growth hormone did not increase their risk of breast or prostate cancer. Several other recent studies have also cast doubt on the role of growth hormone as a cancer-causing villain.

Testosterone may have also gotten a bad rap for its effects on blood lipids. Since testosterone and other anabolic steroids have been shown in some studies to lower HDL cholesterol levels, it was believed that testosterone may increase the risk for heart disease. This was refuted in one recent study on testosterone that showed some positive results. A study on 21 hypo gonadal men (aged 36 to 57) showed a replacement dose of testosterone using the Androderm trans-dermal patch to reduce blood clotting. While HDL levels did drop slightly, blood coagulability is believed to be the more important marker of heart disease risk. Another study showed a very strong negative correlation with testosterone levels and heart disease.

Growth hormone has shown mixed results on its effects on heart disease risk. One study on elderly men and women (aged 65-88) showed that growth hormone administration to lower LDL levels, but raised triglyceride levels. Since high LDL and triglyceride levels are considered measures of heart disease risk, growth hormone’s effects on heart disease risk are ambiguous. However, long-term use of growth hormone as been shown to decrease the thickness of the carotid artery lining – i.e. increased room for blood flow.

While much more research needs to be done, testosterone replacement therapy in hypo-gonadal men may be safer than excessively large doses of growth hormone. The long-term studies have not yet been done to test the true long-term effects of these hormones, but the research seems quite clear at the moment. Michael Mooney has reported similar results on safety and side effects of these hormones: While none of the studies on testosterone or anabolic steroids used for HIV have documented any significant health problems associated with their proper therapeutic use, Dr. Gabe Torres data on his patients who experienced a reduction in symptoms of HIV-related lipodystrophy with Serostim growth hormone showed that at the standard 5 and 6 mg doses, 80 percent of his HIV patients experienced significant side effects, that included elevated glucose, elevated pancreatic enzymes or carpal tunnel syndrome.

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