Illegal use of human growth hormone common among young male weightlifters

January 20, 2011

A new study published in The American Journal on Addictions reveals that illicit use of HGH (human growth hormone) has become common among young American male weightlifters. Additionally, illicit HGH use in this population is often associated with polysubstance abuse involving both performance-enhancing and classical drugs.

HGH, once an expensive performance-enhancing drug used exclusively by elite athletes, has become cheaply available for illicit users on the street.

Researchers led by Brian P. Brennan, MD, MSc, of McLean Hospital and Harvard Medical School, evaluated 231 male weightlifters in the U.S. aged 18-40 and their reports of .

Results found that 27 (12 percent) reported illicit use of HGH and/or its close relative, insulin-like growth factor-I. All of these 27 men had also used anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS), and 15 (56 percent) also reported current or past dependence on opioids, , and/or ecstasy.

These findings suggest that illicit HGH use is common, and is usually associated with abuse of both AAS and ordinary street drugs.

"The long-term risks of high-dose HGH use are little studied, but available evidence suggests that long-term high-dose HGH may have serious medical consequences, including cardiac, , and respiratory effects, as well as increased risk for certain cancers," Brennan notes. "Our findings suggest that mounting illicit HGH abuse may represent a dangerous new form of with potentially severe public health consequences."

Explore further: Illicit Canadian opioid use exceeds heroin

Related Stories

Illicit Canadian opioid use exceeds heroin

November 21, 2006

A Canadian study shows prescription opioids have become the major form of illicit opioid use, raising questions about the nation's drug control policy.

Human growth hormone: Not a life extender after all?

January 26, 2010

People profoundly deficient in human growth hormone (HGH) due to a genetic mutation appear to live just as long as people who make normal amounts of the hormone, a new study shows. The findings suggest that HGH may not be ...

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

( -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.