What are the risks of taking human growth hormone if you don't need it?
Human growth hormone might cause a number of side effects for healthy adults, including:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Increased insulin resistance
- Swelling in the arms and legs (edema)
- Joint and muscle pain
- For men, enlargement of breast tissue (gynecomastia)
Human growth hormone might also contribute to conditions such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease and possibly an increased risk of some cancers.
Some research suggests that side effects of human growth hormone treatments might 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?
When prescribed by a doctor, human growth hormone is administered as an injection under the skin. There's no pill form of human growth hormone available by prescription. Some websites sell a pill form of human growth hormone, claiming that it produces results similar to the injected form of the drug.
However, there's no proof that these claims are true. These dietary supplements are sometimes called human growth hormone releasers. There's also 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.
Sept. 22, 2016
See more In-depth
- Jameson LJ, et al. Hypopituitarism and growth hormone deficiency. In: Endocrinology: Adult and Pediatric. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.; Saunders Elsevier; 2016. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Sept. 4, 2016.
- Anti-aging products. Federal Trade Commission. https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0118-anti-aging-products. Accessed Sept. 4, 2016.
- Can we prevent aging? National Institute on Aging. https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/can-we-prevent-aging. Accessed Sept. 4, 2016.
- Samara N, et al. Off-label use of hormones as an anti-aging strategy: A review. Clinical Interventions in Aging. 2014:9;1175.
- Sattler FR. Growth hormone in the aging male. Best Practice & Research: Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. 2013;27:541.