Hormone Replacement a Fountain of Youth?

by Jose Sonik
With aging, comes reduced hormone levels. Does reversing the hormone levels reverse aging?
Not exactly, but it might come close.
Human growth hormone is a hormone that predominantly increases height. While doing so, it also increases muscle mass and bone density. HGH is at its highest levels during childhood and puberty. As we mature, the levels decrease, beginning a sharp decline at around age 30. At around that time, bone density declines, muscle mass reduces, and physical disorders like diabetes increase.
Until now, some of the more desperate aging generation have taken HGH in the hope of reversing aging, but research has not corroborated their theory.
But now, something new is in the air. According to Natalie Angier of the NY Times: “In a clinical trial of 21 healthy men ranging in age from 61 to 81, researchers found that after six months of injections of a genetically engineered version of the natural body hormone, the men emerged with bodies that by many measures were almost 20 years younger than the ones they started with.”
Aging was measured only in the distribution of body weight. The men were found to have increased muscle mass and decreased fat. The scientists hypothesize that some bulk went to internal organs, which shrink with age, but aren’t sure. The men’s skin also increased in thickness and youth, and bone density increased.
Of course, the significance of this improvement is debatable. HGH is known to increase muscles mass and reduce fat, but without really increasing strength. And what’s the point of muscle without strength? Similarly, the change in appearance was not correlated to an increase in performance of organs or body.
And as with all drugs, there were the side effects. HGH can cause swelling in the face, arms, and legs; arthritis; diabetes; hardened arteries, high blood pressure, and heart failure; and abnormal growth of bones and organs, among others.

17. November 2008 by Ruth Folger Weiss
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