Some athletes inject growth hormone (GH) in the hope that it will provide anabolic and lipolytic activity. There is little evidence that GH actually improves athletic performance. There is abundant evidence of complications with prolonged use of supratherapeutic doses.


Features of GH abuse in athletes:

(1) The dose may be much higher than the doses used to treat growth hormone deficiency.

(2) The athlete may also be abusing anabolic steroids, IGF-I and other compounds.


Risk factors for adverse effects associated with GH:

(1) high doses

(2) prolonged administration

(3) products derived from human pituitary

(4) illicit products of uncertain origin


Adverse effects linked to GH abuse:

(1) carpal tunnel syndrome

(2) arthralgias and myalgias

(3) sodium retention by the kidneys, which leads to water retention and edema

(4) insulin resistance which may progress to diabetes

(5) cardiomyopathy

(6) skeletal changes of acromegaly

(7) headache

(8) paresthesias


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