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50+: Live Better, Longer

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Hormones' Anti-Aging Potential Draws Attention


"While some of the changes associated with these hormone interventions appear to be in the direction commonly associated with younger, healthy individuals, the clinical usefulness of the interventions remains unclear," the NIA said in a statement.

"There is guarded optimism that some therapeutic maneuver that will raise growth hormone levels -- not necessarily giving growth hormone itself -- may have some value in preventing frailty and improving musculoskeletal function in older people," S. Mitchell Harman, MD, said in an interview on the topic last year. "But I think we have to say 'guarded optimism" at this point, because giving growth hormone per se doesn't seem to have the risk-benefit ratios that we're really looking for." Harman is with the NIA's Intramural Research Program and has been involved in many GH studies.

More optimistic is Joseph Raffaele, MD, co-founder of the Anti Aging Medicine Association of New York. Raffaele has been prescribing GH to patients for more than three years and says he has seen good results, including decreased fat mass without change in diet and exercise, increased lean muscle mass, stronger bones, improved heart and lung function, and reductions in blood pressure.

"Growth hormone is not the key to reversing the aging process because there is no single key. But it is certainly an important element of aging," he tells WebMD.

Vital Information:

  • Approximately 7 million elderly Americans need long-term care, and that number is expected to double by 2030.
  • Some scientific evidence shows that trophic factors, such as growth hormone, estrogen, and testosterone, may help combat the aging process.
  • Growth hormone, in particular, may reduce frailty and help older people maintain independence, but studies are showing mixed results.
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