What are the risks of taking human growth hormone if you don't need it?

Human growth hormone may cause a number of side effects for healthy adults, including:

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Swelling in the arms and legs
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • For men, enlargement of breast tissue (gynecomastia)

Human growth hormone may also contribute to conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease.

Some research suggests that side effects of human growth hormone treatments may be more likely in older adults than in younger people. Because the studies of healthy adults taking human growth hormone have been short term, it isn't clear whether the side effects could eventually dissipate or become worse.

Does human growth hormone come in pill form?

Human growth hormone is typically administered as an injection under the skin. Some websites sell a pill form of human growth hormone and claim that it produces results similar to the injected form of the drug. Sometimes these dietary supplements are called human growth hormone releasers. However, there's no proof that these claims are true. Likewise, there's no proof that homeopathic remedies claiming to contain human growth hormone work.

What's the bottom line?

If you have specific concerns about aging, ask your doctor about proven ways to improve your health. Remember, healthy lifestyle choices — such as eating a healthy diet and including physical activity in your daily routine — can help you feel your best as you get older.

Feb. 01, 2014 See more In-depth