There was an article in the Sunday Reader section of this week’s paper titled “Youthfulness an obsession – but at what cost?” The author discusses some of the technologies available for maintaining both the appearance, and in some cases, the attributes of youth. The pursuit of anti-aging therapies has given rise to options such as injections with botulism (Botox), cosmetic surgery, and hormone replacement therapy. Many of these things are helpful to people, and I wouldn’t suggest these are all bad, because that is certainly not the case. However, I can’t help but wonder if we sometimes get carried away.
Take for instance the apparent poster child for the “youth” movement. Dr. Jeffry Life at 67 years old has the appearance of a man 40-years younger. He is the chief medical officer for the Cenegenics Medical Institute, an institute that specializes in “age management.” You may wonder how he achieved such an appearance. He eats right, exercises regularly, and takes regular injections of testosterone and human growth hormone.
Anti-Aging and HGH
Human growth hormone (HGH) provides the fuel for rapid growth during childhood and adolesence. It is released by the pituitary gland and fuels bone growth and the development of muscle mass. After the age of 40, levels slowly fall. Some people believe this is responsible for the frailty of aging. Although approved for the treatment of some conditions, human growth hormone therapy has been banned by most professional sports as a performance enhancing substance. Barry Bonds was accused of taking human growth hormone injections during the home run race a few years back. Of course, he’s not the only athlete to be accused of taking the stuff.
Although there’s some debate about the actual effect taking hgh supplements may have on adults, looking at Dr. Life’s results, there’s no doubt that something he’s doing makes an impact. There are a lot of people who have started taking hGH with the belief that it has a strong antiaging effect, or may even reverse the aging process. According to the Mayo Clinic’s site, human growth hormone replacement therapy has been shown to increase bone density, muscle mass, and exercise capacity in adults having a natural deficiency. The extrapolation is that it will also work in older adults having naturally low levels. There doesn’t appear to be a clear answer, but there are certainly some negative side effects. Among them are the following:
- Swelling of the extremeties
- Abnormal organ growth
- High blood pressure
HGH treatment costs can range into the thousands of dollars each month. The drug is generally delivered in an injectable form. Human growth hormone pills (also known as human growth hormone releasers) available, but the effectiveness of these products is questionable.
It would be interesting to hear from people who have taken anti-aging hGH therapy. Although hormone replacement therapy has been generally accepted for quite a while (among women), the risks are still a subject of debate. And, in the case of HRT for women, we’re talking about a sex hormone, rather than a growth hormone. Does it work? Quite frankly, I don’t know. At the ripe old age of 36, I don’t think I’d be willing to make myself into a test subject. I want to be fit and healthy, but I don’t think I’d be willing to go that far. Yet.