With promises to deliver increased muscle bulk and athletic performance, improved looks, and exhilarating energy boosts, human growth hormone (HGH) is now being widely abused and sold in mass quantities on the black market. Hammering home the prevalence of illegitimate use, a large-scale national survey shows that abuse of HGH among America's teenagers has more than doubled over the past 12 months.
Travis Tygart, CEO of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, said that these numbers are alarming, but not surprising. He says the blame for this increase is partially due to the extensive online marketing of performance-enhancing substances, along with a complete lack of consistent drug testing among high school athletes.
What is HGH?
Human growth hormone is a naturally occurring substance that is produced by the pituitary gland. Its main role is to spur growth in children and adolescents. HGH also helps regulate body makeup, body fluids, muscle and bone growth, sugar and fat metabolism, and possibly heart function.
The HGH formulation that’s being abused across America is produced synthetically in pharmaceutical labs. Synthetic HGH was first developed in 1985 and approved by the FDA for specific uses in children and adults. In children and adolescents, HGH injections treat poor growth of both known and unknown causes. Unfortunately, synthetic HGH is also the active ingredient in a number of prescription drugs and other products widely available over the Internet.
Popularity Among Teens
In a confidential 2013 survey, teenagers and adolescents were asked about illicit HGH and steroid use. A total of 3,705 high school students were surveyed. Results were released by Partnership for Drug-Free Kids and, from the looks of it, parents should be concerned. Here’s what they found:
- 11 percent reported using synthetic HGH at least once — up from 5 percent in the four preceding surveys.
- Nine percent of teenage girls admitted to trying synthetic forms of HGH.
- Twelve percent of teenage boys admitted to abusing synthetic HGH.
- Use of steroids among teens also increased from 5 to 7 percent over the same period.
Concerns About Bogus HGH
It’s highly likely that many of the synthetic HGH products tried by teens are not HGH at all. When purchasing medications and drugs online through less-than-reputable dealers, there’s no way of knowing what’s in the designer drugs.
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