Since the 70’s, athletes have been using growth hormone (or GH) to supplement their performance, strength, and power. GH is a compound released by the pituitary gland at the bottom of the brain. From there, it is sent through the blood stream and to the liver where it is converted into Insulin like Growth Factor. From there it is transported to bodily tissues where it becomes responsible for several functions during childhood development and plays key roles in bone and muscle growth.
When injected directly into the muscles, athletes claim that GH gives helps their bodies build more lean muscle mass, provides added strength, and increases aerobic exercise capacity. The FDA has warned that there is no scientific evidence to support these claims. But it stands to reason that GH is effective in some degree, otherwise it wouldn’t be banned by the Olympic Committee of the NCAA.
But whether or not GH is an effective muscle supplement, there is quite a bit of evidence to show connections to side effects. Injecting extra hormones into your body is bound to have a few complications. Some of the side effects are minor but some are rather serious. Let’s discuss some of the most notable side effects.
One known side effect is Edema. Edema is an over-accumulation of fluids beneath the skin or in certain cavities of the body. This build up of fluids can stress and injure joints. Carpal tunnel syndrome is one of the most common. This neural problem is brought on by the compression of the median nerve running up your hand and into the arm. This comes from the edema putting to much pressure on the joints around the wrist.
GH has also been tied to some cases of hypertension. Hypertension, or high blood pressure, are associated with risks like stroke, heart failure, and is the leading cause of chronic kidney failure. This is obviously one of the more serious side effects, but so far the correlation needs more scientific examination.
Finally, using high doses of GH treatments has been known to lead to a higher risk of diabetes. This may be caused as GH is sent to the liver to be converted into insulin-like growth factor. IGF is a polypeptide very similar to insulin. Using GH in high doses might make the body dependent on IGF and stimulate a lack of real insulin production.