Once the exclusive domain of athletes looking for a leg up on the competition, HGH, or the human growth hormone, is now being touted as a way for aging men to, well, ward off aging.
Little history lesson: before Barry Bonds used the stuff to smack 70 dingers and go up a hat size, HGH was prescribed for children who were abnormally small as a result of pituitary inefficiencies. With adults, you can’t grow up ... so it makes you grow thicker.
Despite the claims of its proponents — “It’ll make you stronger, faster, younger, etc.” — its use remains controversial because we’re lacking significant testing on its long-terms effects. And in some of the trials that have been done, it’s been shown to cause tumors. So what’s worse: aging or tumors?
“America has been a pill culture for a long time,” says sports medicine doctor David Schechter. “Fix me and fix me fast, doc. That’s what they say.” Granted, you have to inject HGH, but it’s a still a quick fix, and one that Schechter doesn’t advocate.
“The only hormone I see prescribed is testosterone,” he says. Our natural levels of testosterone production go down 10 percent a decade, a gradual decline that vaguely equivalent to menopause, although women lose all their hormones in one pop. Anything below a score of 300 on a blood test makes you a candidate for testosterone injections. Signs of low testosterone include a drop in energy, ambition, competitiveness and sex drive.
Otherwise, the best way to handle aging, says Dr. Schechter, “maintain a good diet, exercise regularly and get plenty of rest.”
We’d like to also add: maintain a good sense of humor, dance often and be wary of anyone peddling snake oil.
David Schechter, MD, has a sports medicine and family medicine practice in Beverly Hills. His recent book, Think Away Your Pain, offers a holistic approach to ridding yourself of aches and discomfort.