RE: more about growth hormone and the decline of years

From: Robert J. Bradbury (
Date: Wed Feb 06 2002 - 19:00:33 MST

On Wed, 6 Feb 2002, Smigrodzki, Rafal wrote:

> GH is bad for you. It has a significant aging-promoting effect in transgenic
> mice and most likely humans (see Bartke A. Brown-Borg HM. Bode AM. Carlson
> J. Hunter WS. Bronson RT. Does growth hormone prevent or accelerate aging?.
> [Review] [78 refs] [Journal Article. Review. Review, Tutorial] Experimental
> Gerontology. 33(7-8):675-87, 1998 Nov-Dec) for review.

Caveat: I have not read this article. *But* the significant differences
in the relationship between teleomere shortening in mice and humans and
aging should caution us against extrapolations from mice to humans.

I would freely accept that GH supplementation in humans might accelerate
cancer progression. That however might be counteracted by angiogenesis
inhibitors. On the other hand GH supplementation might contribute to
increased muscle mass that would tend to reduce falls, hip fractures,
long periods of hospital down time and decreased mobility.

"Aging" is a complex multifactorial process. Extrapolating conclusions
from GH supplementation in mice into humans is an *iffy* proposition --
as is supplementing GH in humans on the basis of limited studies.
It might be entirely true that GH supplementation could have a longevity
promoting effect for the elderly in some environments and a longevity
diminishing effect for the elderly in other environments.

> This reminds me about two of my patients, a married couple, who were
> spending a fortune on GH supplementation, dreaming of staying forever young,
> but most likely just speeding up a rush towards an early grave, all because
> they read some quack's book on the alleged benefits of GH. And they wife was
> very tanned, too - she looked ten years older than she was.

Clearly GH is not the "one answer" -- provided people realize that and
carefully balance risks and benefits, I do not think they should be
prevented from using it. At the same time it would be useful for
physicians to generate a meta-database of results based on such
individuals who are willing to treat themselves as "experimental vehicles".
Ultimately one wants to tie it back to genetic and lifestyle data so
one can determine when GH is likely to help more than it hurts.

In fact there is a completely orthogonal judgement vector that
extropians should consider -- a drug might actually serve to
shorten life, but significantly increases the quality of that
life. The length of life x quality of life product is one that
has a very subjective valuation. We must always be careful to
look to the person whose life is involved to ascertain those


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