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Human Growth Hormone - Side Effects and Risks

 

Human Growth Hormone (HGH) is produced by the pituitary gland in the brain, and is responsible for growth and development of tissues, muscles and bones. In recent years, HGH has been used to treat a number of clinical and non-clinical conditions, including slowing down the ageing process and in athletics (though these are no longer legal).

However, while the beneficial effects of HGH are many, there remain certain side effects and risks of treatment. These are briefly described below.

 

HGH Side Effects and Risks

 

To simplify the understanding of the side effects and risks, we have arbitrarily divided them into subheadings:

1. Joints - Most of the side effects with Human Growth Hormone are not very common. Mild side effects can include joint pains and mild joint swelling. On occasion, swelling in the wrist can cause mild compression of the tendons within, causing carpal tunnel syndrome. This occurs from the accumulation of fluid within the wrist, and is treated by releasing the pressure. Patients may also include mild numbness and tingling of the skin.
2. Heart and blood vessels - In addition to these minor side effects, patients taking human growth hormone can develop increased cholesterol and fat deposition within the arteries. This can result in hardening of the arteries and is called atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is a risk factor for developing heart disease in the future. Furthermore, thickening and hardening blood vessels can result in high blood pressure over time.
3. Diabetes Mellitus - A more serious side effect is the development of glucose intolerance. What this means is that the body is unable to break down and digest glucose in the diet, resulting in a high blood glucose level. Over time, this can result in diabetes mellitus, which requires treatment.
4. Excessive growth of bones and tissues - As previously mentioned, human growth hormone is responsible for the development of growth of tissues, muscles and bones. In younger people especially, HGH supplementation can result in excessive growth of bone and muscle, giving rise to a condition called Acromegaly. The overgrown bones are not strong and neither are the muscles. This is always to be borne in mind when younger people are taking Human Growth Hormone. Acromegaly is characterised by an increase in the size of the facial bones, hands and feet, and is associated with a higher risk of heart disease and heart attacks.
5. Cancer - There is some evidence that HGH supplements contribute to the development of certain cancers, though this is yet to be studied extensively. This may be a risk only associated with synthetic forms of HGH and not with the naturally available HGH supplements.

 

As is seen in the above discussion, there appear to be a few side effects with HGH supplementation treatment. However, it must be borne in mind that in a majority of cases, the benefits of Human Growth Hormone outweigh the risks, and this should be considered before taking the supplements. Serious side effects are rare, and a lot more research is yet to be conducted to fully ascertain the risks and side effects.