Part One: Healthy Kids and hGH
Short people lead lesser lives...so it has been thought for years. They were
less happy in marriage, less likely to succeed in school and career, and who
hasn't heard of "Napoleon Syndrome": the stereotype angry short guy. So in 1958,
when Dr. M. Rabin found a miracle treatment that made short kids grow,
pediatricians and parents rejoiced.
From 1963-1985, Human Growth Hormone (hGH) was
distributed to over 8000 children in the lowest 5% of the height scale to do
nothing more than make them taller. There was never any double-blind testing of
the drug (then called "Miracle Growth Compound") and no patient was warned about
side effects or long term implications of it's use. And there were side effects.
In 1985 three hGH
recipients contracted a rare neurological illness called Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD), otherwise known as the
human equivalent of "mad cow" disease. Since then, 34 more in the US and over 110 in
the rest of the world who received this treatment have died
Because CJD has up to a 30 year gestation, each year the National Institute of Health (USA) sends a letter to over 6000
of the patients who received Miracle Growth Compound with a full report of how
many have contracted it. There are still over 2000 patients who haven't been
located, and the NIH has no program to find and get the word out to
them, let alone count them in any hGH side effect statistics.
Dr. Judith Fradkin, deputy director of the division of
diabetes, endocrinology and metabolic diseases, a part of the NIH, defends the
agency. "We've tried to take responsibility by giving out information in the
updates". She believes that the NIH shouldn't be the conduit for contact among
hGH recipients. "I think that it's a privacy issue," she says. "People don't
necessarily want to be contacted. People don't like getting letters from us
because it reminds them. That's why we never send updates during major
holidays." (David Davis, Cut Short 1996)
There are now two basic forms of hGH, natural and synthetic. Natural hGH is
extracted from pituitary glands of human cadavers. The guidelines for
collection couldn't be too strict back in the frenzy to make short kids grow -
only pituitaries of those who donated their bodies to science could be
used and it took thousands of pituitaries to make up the batches of hGH to meet
demand. They ruled out people who died of systemic infection, but did not rule
out those who died of other disease (cancer, chronic neurological diseases
Part Two: hGH and the Fountain of Youth
Synthetic hGH pharmaceutical products
such as Protropin, from Genentech, and Humatrope, from Eli Lilly have been
available since 1986 but side effects associated with their use prohibit the average
person from obtaining them. Synthetic hGH is legally available for the
treatment of dwarfism and specific HGH adult deficiency and is extremely
expensive (about $40,000 US per year, though Eli Lilly provides it free to
dwarfism patients who show financial need).
Approximately one-third of all patients taking
synthetic hGH develop antibodies to it. These antibodies are a definite threat
to normal immune function as well as to the body's own supply of GH. Other
documented side effects include carpal tunnel syndrome, abnormal bone
growth, chronic fatigue, reduced life-span and obesity due to disturbed
insulin metabolism. Over the long-term, tumors may grow and neurological
diseases may progress faster in patients with increased GH.
So why are people smuggling pharmaceutical grade hGH from Mexico, China and
South Africa? Why is it that if you walk into any vitamin store and you will
find GH Stimulators (herbal supplements that claim to stimulate your pituitary
to manufacture more of your own natural Growth Hormone). hGH nasal sprays,
rectal sprays, oral drops, sprays and tablets are sold all over the internet.
Why would anyone want to take this stuff?
Because it's the new wonder drug that works wonders. Anti-aging, weight loss,
increased muscle tone and strength, more energy, wounds heal faster, metabolism
increases, increased sex drive, get babes (yes, there are even claims it
increases pheromone production so you lure the ladies with your scent). But it's
synthetic - right?
Right - pharmaceutical grade hGH is synthetic. GH Stimulators and topical hGH are herbal and/or
all-natural. Synthetic, all natural and
herbal don't mean VEGETARIAN or NOT GENETICALLY ENGINEERED.
Here are some of the ingredients you might find in a dose of All Natural
COLOSTRUM - Colostrum is the pre-milk liquid produced by the mammary gland
during the first 24-48 hours after giving birth. Instead of feeding it to baby
cows to build their immune systems, they bottle and refine it for you, the
PHOSPHATIDYL SERINE - Source - bovine brain.
GLYSINE - Glysine is easily synthesized, but more cheaply (and naturally) derived from gelatin. Gelatin
is still made from animal hide and and hoof.
ANTERIOR PITUITARY - The back of a pituitary gland. Though advertised by many
All Natural supplements, I could find no origin of the material used.
GROWTH HORMONE - this is the stuff - never
explains where it's derived from, genetically engineered or natural.
IGF-1 - insulin-like growth hormone - Please see Witnie's excellent excellent (and just as unsettling) node
This may be yet another case of everybody jumping on the stay young/stay
pretty bandwagon without looking to see if the wagon is safe. Will we
see people who take an inexpensive supplement contract CJD? Will the
one-third of the population who take a Growth Stimulator and develops antibodies
to their own growth hormone die or become gravely ill when their immune
function is gone? What about Vegetarians who find out they've been getting cow
brain and gelatin in their oral spray - will they sue?
my bet is yes on all accounts.
You can read the entire article Cut Short
by David Davis at http://www.motherjones.com/news_wire/short.html
The best information I
found on the side effects of hGH was at a pro hGH website from 1996: http://www.anndeweesallen.com/dal_ra03.htm
To find the origin of many of the ingredients above I called
a few of the companies. Only one company was helpful - QualityCounts.com http://www.qualitycounts.com/fpgrowthhormone.html .