Archive for the ‘Growth Hormone’ Category

The majority of non-medical anabolic-androgenic steroid (AAS) users are not cheating athletes or risk-taking teenagers. According to a recent survey, containing the largest sample to date and published in the online open access publication, Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, the typical male user is about 30 years old, well-educated, and earning an above-average income in a white-collar occupation. The majority did not use steroids during adolescence and were not motivated by athletic competition or sports performance.

The study, conducted by a collaboration of researchers from around the country coordinated by Jason Cohen, Psy.D. candidate, used a web-based survey of nearly 2,000 US males. Whereas athletes are tempted to take anabolic steroids to improve sports performance, the study suggests that physical self-improvement motivates the unrecognized majority of non-medical AAS users who particularly want to increase muscle mass, strength, and physical attractiveness. Other significant but less highly ranked factors included increased confidence, decreased fat, improved mood and attraction of sexual partners.

Although often considered similar to abusers of narcotics and other illicit drugs (e.g., heroin or cocaine), non-medical AAS users are remarkably different. These users follow carefully planned drug regimens in conjunction with a healthy diet, ancillary drugs and exercise. As opposed to the spontaneous and haphazard approach seen in abusers of psychotropic drugs, everything is strategically planned to maximize benefits and minimize harm. “This is simply not a style or pattern of use we typically see when we examine substance abuse” said Jack Darkes, Ph.D., one of the authors. “The notions of spontaneous drug seeking and loss of control do not apply to the vast majority of AAS users,” added co-author Daniel Gwartney, M.D.

“These findings question commonly held views of typical AAS users and their underlying motivations,” said Rick Collins, one of the study’s authors. “The focus on ‘cheating’ athletes and at risk youth has led to irrelevant policy as it relates to the predominant group of non-medical AAS users. The vast majority of AAS users are not athletes and hence, are not likely to view themselves as cheaters. The targeting of athletes through drug testing and other adolescent or sports-based interventions has no bearing on non-competitive adult users.” The study concludes that these AAS users are a driven and ambitious group dedicated to gym attendance, diet, occupational goals and educational attainment. “The users we surveyed consider that they are using directed drug technology as one part of a strategy for physical self-improvement within a health-centered lifestyle,” said Collins. “Effective public policy should begin by accurately identifying who’s using steroids and why. We hope our research – the largest adult survey of non-medical AAS use we know of – is a significant step forward in that direction.”

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Article adapted by MD Only Sports Weblog from original press release.
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Contact: Charlotte Webber
BioMed Central

Article:
A League of Their Own: Demographics, Motivations and Patterns of Use of 1,955 Male Adult Non-Medical Anabolic Steroid Users in the United States
Jason Cohen, Rick Collins, Jack Darkes and Dan Gwartney
Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition (in press)

During embargo, article available at: http://www.jissn.com/imedia/1374735248154681_article.pdf?random=454689

After the embargo, article available from the journal website at: http://www.jissn.com

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Use of growth hormone to boost athletic performance can lead to diabetes, reports a study published ahead of print in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

The study reports the case of a 36 year old professional body-builder who required emergency care for chest pain.

He had lost 40 kg in 12 months, during which he had also experienced excessive urination, thirst, and appetite.

He admitted to using anabolic steroids for 15 years and artificial growth hormone for the past three. He had also taken insulin, a year after starting on the growth hormone.

This was done to counter the effects of high blood sugar, but he had stopped taking it after a couple of episodes of acute low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia) while at the gym.

Tests revealed that his liver was inflamed, his kidneys were enlarged and that he had very high blood sugar. He was also dehydrated, and diagnosed with diabetes.

He was given intravenous fluids and gradually increasing amounts of insulin over five days, after which he was discharged. His symptoms completely cleared up, and he was no longer diabetic.

The use of growth hormone has steadily risen among amateur athletes and bodybuilders all round the world, say the authors, because it is easy to buy online and difficult to detect in screening tests—unlike anabolic steroids.

The authors believe that this is the first reported case of diabetes associated with the use of high dose growth hormone, and urge anyone taking high doses to regularly check their blood sugar levels.

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Article adapted by MD Only Sports Weblog from original press release.
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Contact: Emma Dickinson
BMJ Specialty Journals

Women who undertake a long-term weight training program produce more biologically active growth hormone, a finding that allows physiologists to understand why weight training improves muscle tone and optimizes metabolic function.A study published in the December issue of the American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism looked at different forms of growth hormone, used different testing methods, and varied weight training regimens. The research found that the role of growth hormone in women’s muscle development may be more complicated than previously thought.

“We found that growth hormone was responsive to moderate and heavy exercise regimens having 3-12 repetitions with varying weight loading,” said the study’s principal author, William J. Kraemer. “Women need to have heavy loading cycle or workout in their resistance training routines, as it helps to build muscle and bone.”

The study, “Chronic resistance training in women potentiates growth hormone in vivo bioactivity: characterization of molecular mass variants,” was carried out by Kraemer, Jeff S. Volek, Barry A. Spiering and Carl M. Maresh of the University of Connecticut, Storrs; Bradley C. Nindl, U.S Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, Natick, Mass.; James O. Marx, The University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; Lincoln A. Gotshalk, University of Hawaii at Hilo; Jill A. Bush, University of Houston, Texas; and Jill R. Welsch, Andrea M. Mastro and Wesley C. Hymer, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Penn. The The American Physiological Society published the study.

Hormone comes in different formsGrowth hormone, produced in the pituitary, plays an important role in bone and muscle development, particularly in women. Men, on the other hand, rely to a greater extent on muscle-building testosterone. Since women rely on growth hormone to increase muscle and bone strength, the more growth hormone stimulated by a type of exercise, the better its outcome. Growth hormone also plays a role in fighting tissue breakdown, staving off stress fractures and improving metabolic function.

The growth hormone molecule is composed of 191 amino acids, but sometimes the molecules break apart to form smaller pieces. Other times these smaller pieces join together into larger pieces, including pieces that are larger than the original molecule. In addition, growth hormone can attach to binding proteins. It has been shown that there are more than 100 variants of the growth hormone molecule.

This study looked at growth hormone variants using two different tests that measured an immune response, known as immunoassays. Immunoassays are the tests physiologists have traditionally used in such studies. The researchers added a third test, the tibia line rat growth assay, to detect the biological action of the hormones, a novel approach to the study of growth hormones in exercise.

Type of growth hormone varies with exerciseThe researchers divided the participants into two groups: an upper body training group and a total body training group. The two groups were then subdivided: Half used heavier weights with fewer repetitions (up to eight) while the other half used lighter weights with a greater number of repetitions (up to 12).

The researchers took blood samples before and after the initial training (acute exercise) session that all participants did as the start of the study. They also obtained blood samples before and after the final training session 24 weeks later (chronic exercise). One of the unique aspects of the study was that it continued over a relatively long time.

The researchers made these findings:

  • The presence of growth hormone varied with the training regimen.
  • The presence of growth hormone varied with the test used to detect it. This suggests that pituitary function and the release of different sizes of growth hormone is altered with weight training.
  • The body can adapt and produce more or less of certain sizes of growth hormone with weight training. In this study, the larger sized growth hormone variants appear to increase with heavy resistance training.

“This study shows that not every form of growth hormone responds in the same way, but is dependent upon the exercise protocol,” Kraemer explained. “This may forever change the way we look at growth hormone in the circulation with exercise and training.”

Next stepThe researchers will next examine growth hormone and weight training in women who are using oral contraceptives.

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Article adapted by MD Only Sports Weblog from original press release.
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Contact: Christine Guilfoy
American Physiological Society

Funding

This study was supported by a grant from the US Department of Defense Women’s Health Initiative.

The American Physiological Society was founded in 1887 to foster basic and applied bioscience. The Bethesda, Maryland-based society has 10,500 members and publishes 14 peer-reviewed journals containing almost 4,000 articles annually.

APS provides a wide range of research, educational and career support and programming to further the contributions of physiology to understanding the mechanisms of diseased and healthy states. In 2004, APS received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring.

We could not survive without hormones. They are among the most common and vital chemical messengers in the body. From head to toe, each moment of life, they signal cells to perform tasks that range from the ordinary to the extraordinary. Among their many roles, hormones help regulate body temperature, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels. In childhood, they help us “grow up.” In the teen years, they are the driving force behind puberty.

What Is A Hormone?

Hormones are powerful chemicals that help keep our bodies working normally. The term hormone is derived from the Greek word, hormo, which means to set in motion. And that’s precisely what hormones do in the body. They stimulate, regulate, and control the function of various tissues and organs. Made by specialized groups of cells within structures called glands, hormones are involved in almost every biological process including sexual reproduction, growth, metabolism, and immune function. These glands, including the pituitary, thyroid, adrenals, ovaries, and testes, release various hormones into the body as needed.

Levels of some hormones like parathyroid hormone, which helps regulate calcium levels in the blood and bone, actually increase as a normal part of aging and may be involved in bone loss leading to osteoporosis. But the levels of a number of other hormones, such as testosterone in men and estrogen in women, tend to decrease over time. In other cases, the body may fail to make enough of a hormone due to diseases and disorders that can develop at any age. When this occurs, hormone supplements—pills, shots, topical (rub-on) gels, and medicated skin patches—may be prescribed.

How Hormones Work

Most hormones exist in very low concentrations in the bloodstream. Each hormone molecule travels through the blood until it reaches a cell with a receptor that it matches. Then, the hormone molecule latches onto the receptor and sends a signal into the cell. These signals may instruct the cell to multiply, to make proteins or enzymes, or to perform other vital tasks. Some hormones can even stimulate a cell to release other hormones. However, no single hormone affects all cells in the same way. One hormone, for example, may stimulate a cell to perform one task, while the same hormone can have an entirely different influence over another cell. The response of some cells to hormonal stimulation also may change throughout life.

DHEA

Dehydroepiandrosterone or DHEA is made from cholesterol by the adrenal glands, which sit on top of each kidney. Production of this substance peaks in the mid-20s, and gradually declines with age in most people. What this drop means or how it affects the aging process, if at all, is unclear. In fact, scientists are somewhat mystified by DHEA and have not fully sorted out what it does in the body. However, researchers do know that the body converts DHEA into two hormones that are known to affect us in many ways: estrogen and testosterone.

Human Growth Hormone

Human growth hormone (hGH) is made by the pituitary gland, a pea-sized structure located at the base of the brain. It is important for normal development and maintenance of tissues and organs and is especially important for normal growth in children.

Studies have shown that injections of supplemental hGH are helpful to certain people. Sometimes children are unusually short because their bodies do not make enough  GH. When they receive injections of this hormone, their growth improves. Young adults who have no pituitary gland (because of surgery for a pituitary tumor, for example) cannot make the hormone and they become obese. When they are given hGH, they lose weight.

Like some other hormones, blood levels of hGH often decrease as people age.Although there is no conclusive evidence that hGH can prevent aging, some people spend a great deal of money on supplements. These supplements are claimed by some to increase muscle, decrease fat, and to boost an individual’s stamina and sense of well being. Shots—the only proven way of getting the body to make use of supplemental hGH—can cost more than $15,000 a year. They are available only by prescription and should be given by a doctor. Some dietary supplements, known as human growth hormone releasers, are marketed as a low-cost alternative to hGH shots. But claims that these over-the-counter products retard the aging process need to be examined. While some studies have shown that supplemental hGH does increase muscle mass, it seems to have less impact on muscle strength or function in older adults.

Testosterone

Ask an average man about testosterone, and he might tell you that this hormone helps transform a boy into a man. Or, he might tell that you that it has something to do with sex drive.   Or, if he has read news stories in recent years, he might mention male menopause, a condition thought to be caused by diminishing testosterone levels in aging men.

Testosterone is indeed a vital sex hormone that plays an important role in puberty. In men, testosterone not only regulates sex drive (libido), it also helps regulate bone mass, fat distribution, muscle mass and strength, and the production of red blood cells and sperm.But contrary to what some people believe, testosterone isn’t exclusively a male hormone.  

Women produce small amounts of it in their bodies as well. In men, testosterone is produced in the testes, the reproductive glands that also produce sperm. The amount of testosterone produced in the testes is regulated by the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland.

As men age, their testes often produce somewhat less testosterone than they did during adolescence and early adulthood, when productionof this hormone peaks. In fact, many of the changes that take place in older men often are incorrectly blamed on decreasing testosterone levels. Some men who have erectile difficulty (impotence), for instance, may be tempted to blame this problem on lowered testosterone. However, in many cases, erectile difficulties are due to circulatory problems, not low  testosterone. Still, some men may be helped by testosterone supplementation. For these few men who have extreme deficiencies, testosterone therapy in the form of patches, injections, or topical gels may offer substantial benefit.

Testosterone products may help a man with exceptionally low testosterone levels maintain strong muscles and bones, and increase sex drive. However, what effects testosterone replacement may have in healthy older men without these extreme deficiencies requires more research.The NIA is investigating the role of testosterone therapy in delaying or preventing frailty. Results from preliminary studies involving small groups of men have been inconclusive, and it remains unclear to what degree supplementation of this hormone can sharpen memory or help men maintain stout muscles, sturdy bones, and robust sexual activity.

Many other questions remain about the use of this hormone in late life. It is unclear, for example, whether men who are at the lower end of the normal range of testosterone production would benefit from supplementation.Some investigators are also concerned about the long-term harmful effects that supplemental testosterone might have on the aging body. While some epidemiologic studies suggest that higher levels of testosterone are not associated with the higher incidence of prostate cancer, it is not yet known if testosterone therapy increases the risk of such cancer, the second leading cause of cancer death among men.

The bottom line: Although some older men who have tried testosterone therapy report feeling more energetic or younger, testosterone supplementation remains a scientifically unproven method for preventing or relieving any physical and psychological changes that men with normal testosterone levels may experience as they get older. The NIA is expanding its research to gather more evidence on the risks and benefits of testosterone supplementation in aging men with low testosterone levels.

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Article adapted by MD Only Sports Weblog from original press release.
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Source:  National Institute on Aging