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Can Human Growth Hormone Stop The Biological Clock?

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Hormones are chemical messengers that course through our bodies, controlling everything from our metabolism to how our organs function.

As we get older, there's a natural decline of human growth hormone and sex steroids. So in theory, replacing these hormones might slow or reverse some of the effects of aging.

Dr. Mulvihill takes a look at recent study on the subject.

If only there were a magic potion to turn back or stop the biological clock. Well, it's not just in movies anymore.

Today, a growing number of people are using human growth hormone alone, or with other treatments touted as so-called "anti-aging" therapies.

But do they work and are they safe?

Those important questions are now being addressed by the National Institutes of Health. As reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers put the hormones to the gold-standard of tests-- a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial in healthy older men and women.

The six-month study looked at human growth hormone alone or in combination with testosterone or estrogen and progestin.

They found human growth hormone substantially increased lean body mass, and decreased fat, in men and women alike. What's more, when growth hormone was combined with testosterone, it significantly improved cardiac endurance in older men.

But at what cost? Side effects were common, including joint pain, swelling, and carpal tunnel syndrome.

But what's most worrisome is an increased incidence of glucose intolerance and diabetes among men.

Fortunately all these side effects, even diabetes, cleared within six weeks of stopping the medications.

So what's the bottom line? The researchers say while growth hormone and sex steroids may one day be a promising treatment for certain age-related conditions, it's not ready for prime time.

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