A study published in The American Journal on Addictions showed that the illegal use of human growth hormone (HGH) by young bodybuilders in the United States has become common. In addition, illegal use of HGH in this population is often associated with abuse of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs.
HGH, a once expensive performance-enhancing drug used exclusively by top athletes, has become easily accessible to illegal users in the black market.
Researchers led by Brian P. Brennan, MD, MSc, from McLean Hospital and Harvard Medical School; evaluated 231 American men aged 18 to 40 on their drug use.
The results showed that 27 (12%) reported illegal use of HGH and IGF-1. All 27 men also used anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS), and 15 (56%) also reported current or past dependence on opiates, cocaine and ecstasy.
These findings suggest that the illegal use of HGH is widespread and generally accompanied by abuse of AAS and common illegal drugs.
The long-term risks associated with the use of high doses of HGH have not been widely studied, but the available evidence suggests that the use of high doses of HGH can have serious long-term medical consequences, including effects on the heart, endocrine and respiratory systems and an increased risk of certain types of cancer, notes Brennan. The study’s findings suggest that the increased illegal abuse of human growth hormone can be a new and dangerous form of drug use, which can have serious consequences for public health.