Before we elaborate on potential HGH benefits, it should be noted that HGH is not approved for anti-aging. Studies involving growth hormone therapy (GH therapy) in older men have shown significant side effects. In addition to these side effects, other major concerns exist with GH therapy in men without growth hormone deficiency. These concerns include the following: 1) the limited scale of studies, and 2) the unknown long-term link between HGH therapy and cancer or other diseases.
While the number of studies involving HGH therapy use in men without growth hormone deficiency is limited, these studies suggest that HGH therapy does produce favorable changes to body composition. These HGH benefits include the following:
- Increased bone mineral density
- Decreased fat mass
- Increased lean body mass
These HGH benefits have no doubt enhanced interest in HGH therapy for aging men. However, these same studies show high rates of adverse side effects. (See HGH Side Effects)
HGH Benefits: Extended Discussion
- Increased Lean Body Mass – Studies show that both HGH therapy and HGH therapy plus exercise increase lean body mass by an average of approximately 5 lbs. over a 26-week evaluation period.1-14 As expected, HGH therapy plus exercise is superior to GH therapy alone for increasing muscle mass. Of note, the changes to lean body mass brought by HGH therapy do not produce meaningful increases in muscle strength or physical function.
- Decreased Fat Mass – One of the more interesting HGH benefits is decreased fat mass. Studies show that HGH therapy and HGH therapy plus exercise both decrease fat mass by an average of approximately 5 lbs over a 26-week evaluation period.1-14 As expected, the HGH benefits of HGH therapy plus exercise produces a slightly greater decrease in fat mass than HGH therapy alone. If you combine the increase in muscle with the decrease if fat, study participants generally weighed the same weight at the end of the study. Yet, their overall body composition changed rather dramatically (5 more lbs. of muscle and 5 fewer lbs. of fat).
Fat reductions occur primarily in the abdominal region. Fat in the abdominal region is the type of fat most commonly associated with multiple significant health problems, including cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Consequently, a reduction in abdominal fat can potentially improve multiple health markers as well as overall health.
- Increased Bone Mineral Density – Although few studies exist evaluating bone mineral density, the few studies that do exist have suggested that HGH therapy may increase bone mineral density.1,3,13,15 However, no evidence exists to show that these increases in bone mineral density decrease fracture risk in humans.
EMG’s HGH Homepage: Human Growth Hormone
External Resources: Harvard Health: HGH Benefits
1. Rudman D, Feller AG, Nagraj HS, et al. Effects of human growth hormone in men over 60 years old. N Engl J Med. Jul 1990; 323 (1): 1-6.
2. Cohn L, Feller AG, Draper MW, Rudman IW, Rudman D. Carpal tunnel syndrome and gynaecomastia during growth hormone treatment of elderly men with low circulating IGF-I concentrations. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). Oct 1993; 39 (4): 417-425.
3. Rudman D, Feller AG, Cohn L, Shetty KR, Rudman IW, Draper MW. Effects of human growth hormone on body composition in elderly men. Horm Res. 1991; 36 Suppl 1: 73-81.
4. Blackman MR, Sorkin JD, Münzer T, et al. Growth hormone and sex steroid administration in healthy aged women and men: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA. Nov 2002; 288 (18): 2282-2292.
5. Christmas C, O’Connor KG, Harman SM, et al. Growth hormone and sex steroid effects on bone metabolism and bone mineral density in healthy aged women and men. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. Jan 2002; 57 (1): M12-18.
6. Johannsson G, Mårin P, Lönn L, et al. Growth hormone treatment of abdominally obese men reduces abdominal fat mass, improves glucose and lipoprotein metabolism, and reduces diastolic blood pressure. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. Mar 1997; 82 (3): 727-734.
7. Svensson J, Bengtsson BA, Taskinen MR, Wiklund O, Johannsson G. A nine-month, placebo-controlled study of the effects of growth hormone treatment on lipoproteins and LDL size in abdominally obese men. Growth Horm IGF Res. Jun 2000; 10 (3): 118-126.
8. Karlsson C, Stenlöf K, Johannsson G, et al. Effects of growth hormone treatment on the leptin system and on energy expenditure in abdominally obese men. Eur J Endocrinol. Apr 1998; 138 (4): 408-414.
9. Lange KH, Isaksson F, Rasmussen MH, Juul A, Bülow J, Kjaer M. GH administration and discontinuation in healthy elderly men: effects on body composition, GH-related serum markers, resting heart rate and resting oxygen uptake. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). Jul 2001; 55 (1): 77-86.
10. Lange KH, Andersen JL, Beyer N, et al. GH administration changes myosin heavy chain isoforms in skeletal muscle but does not augment muscle strength or hypertrophy, either alone or combined with resistance exercise training in healthy elderly men. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. Feb 2002; 87 (2): 513-523.
11. Yuen K, Wareham N, Frystyk J, et al. Short-term low-dose growth hormone administration in subjects with impaired glucose tolerance and the metabolic syndrome: effects on beta-cell function and post-load glucose tolerance. Eur J Endocrinol. Jul 2004; 151 (1): 39-45.
12. Münzer T, Harman SM, Hees P, et al. Effects of GH and/or sex steroid administration on abdominal subcutaneous and visceral fat in healthy aged women and men. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. Aug 2001; 86 (8): 3604-3610.
13. Papadakis MA, Grady D, Black D, et al. Growth hormone replacement in healthy older men improves body composition but not functional ability. Ann Intern Med. Apr 1996; 124 (8): 708-716.
14. Liu H, Bravata DM, Olkin I, et al. Systematic review: the safety and efficacy of growth hormone in the healthy elderly. Ann Intern Med. Jan 2007; 146 (2): 104-115.
15. Marcus R, Butterfield G, Holloway L, et al. Effects of short term administration of recombinant human growth hormone to elderly people. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. Feb 1990; 70 (2): 519-527.