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Jeff Passan: Sorting out the hGH issue

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by flaming_mo, Jun 13, 2006.

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  1. flaming_mo

    flaming_mo Guest


    Great column. A few relevant passages...

    Take a sprained ankle. When a 16-year-old rolls his in a basketball game, he's back two days later. When a 40-year-old twists his during a pickup run, he takes two weeks to recover. The injury is the same. The difference, Klatz says, is in the pituitary glands' production of growth hormone: teenagers' pump with vigor, middle-aged men's drip meekly.

    Unless, of course, they supplement them with synthetic hGH.

    "There is this Puritan ethic in our country that anything in sports that isn't totally natural is bad," said Klatz, the author of "Grow Young with HGH." "I'm not saying it's right or wrong. I am for progress."


    What if Klatz is right? What if hGH does help athletes recover from injuries at a more rapid pace? Teams employ athletic trainers and doctors to bring back players as quickly as possible, and if research proved hGH safe and effective, there would seem a compelling case for using it regularly in rehabilitation instead of vilifying it.

    Novo Nordisk, a Denmark-based healthcare company studying growth hormone therapy, could have that first slice of evidence. Over the last four years, a medical team studied the efficacy and safety of treating tibia fractures with somatropin (synthetic hGH) shots in Germany, Israel and South Africa. Their conclusion, as presented in March at the Orthopaedic Research Society annual meeting in Chicago:

    "In closed (not breaking the skin) tibial fractures, hGH treatment accelerated healing significantly, which may be of benefit in people with closed fractures. No new hGH safety issues were identified."


    What is a performance-enhancing drug?

    Is it a substance that allows a player to perform at his peak level? In that case, Tylenol could be deemed a performance-enhancing drug to any player with a headache.

    Is it a solution for a nagging problem? In that case, cortisone shots could be deemed performance-enhancing drugs for players with sore shoulders or knees.

    "I don't think cortisone is actually used in that manner," the trainer said. "Cortisone is used as a treatment where, because of the ability to localize around an area where there's an injury, it's stable."

    Fair point. The root of contention with testosterone boosters is that they give users distinct advantages over non-users. Yet biology does that, too. It is likely that Julio Franco, at 47 the oldest player in baseball, has among the lowest growth hormone levels. Is age a penalty, or should Franco be able to, much like a car low on oil, top off at a level healthy enough so there's no spillage?

    "People are just behind the times," Klatz said. "This is the same reason the scientific establishment said Christopher Columbus was going to sail off the end of the world. I can't help it if certain people in my profession have a closed mind of reality.

    "Hundreds of thousands of children and thousands of adults have used growth hormone. If this was really a dangerous drug, don't you think we'd have bodies lined up on the street? Don't you think we'd have the FDA up in arms? There's no evidence they can hang their hat on."
  2. alleyallen

    alleyallen Guest

    Good point. If it could be proven there's no detrimental effects through proper HGH use, then maybe we should push the FDA to approve its use on limited basis. Then you could consider its use in pro sports.
  3. spnited

    spnited Active Member

    This is not a question of hGH for medicinal purposes. There are many medicinal purposes for which anabolic steroids are prescribed to aid and accelerate recovery.

    Yes, hGH will aid healing, just as anabolic steroids will.
    The question is the abuse of these drugs for the sole purpose of building muscle and enhancing performance.
    Big, big difference between legitimate medical usage (under prescription) and performance enhancing usage (usaully obtained illegally).
  4. Columbo

    Columbo Active Member

    Perhaps then, taking the stuff wouldn't be unlike having surgery to correct an injury, or wearing contact lenses/glasses to repair naturally bad eyesight.
  5. flaming_mo

    flaming_mo Guest

    There was a GQ article several months ago in which a 40-ish writer obtained a GH prescription to increase his testosterone levels. (His levels were only slightly below-average, and the daily injections raised them to considerably above-average). If Julio Franco obtained such a prescription, would it be OK, or would it still be doping?

    (The GQ article, which I can't find, painted GH as a sort of fountain of youth. The writer said he had increased energy and sexual performance and felt "younger.")
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