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Logo of postmedjPostgraduate Medical JournalVisit this articleSubmit a manuscriptReceive email alertsContact usBMJ
Postgrad Med J. 2004 October; 80(948): 577–580.
PMCID: PMC1743118

Justified and unjustified use of growth hormone


Growth hormone (GH) replacement therapy for children and adults with proven GH deficiency due to a pituitary disorder has become an accepted therapy with proven efficacy. GH is increasingly suggested, however, as a potential treatment for frailty, osteoporosis, morbid obesity, cardiac failure, and various catabolic conditions. However, the available placebo controlled studies have not reported many significant beneficial effects, and it might even be dangerous to use excessive GH dosages in conditions in which the body has just decided to decrease GH actions. GH can indeed induce changes in body composition that are considered to be advantageous to GH deficient and non-GH deficient subjects. In contrast to GH replacement therapy in GH deficient subjects, however, excessive GH action due to GH misuse seems to be ineffective in improving muscle power. Moreover, there are no available study data to indicate that the use of GH for non-GH deficient subjects should be advocated, especially as animal data suggest that lower GH levels are positively correlated with longevity.

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