It Looks Like HGH Really Does Improve Performance


Dr. Pullen examines the use of human growth hormone's ability to improve performance in the same week that Floyd Landis admits to doping and accuses Lance Armstrong of doing the same.

This article originally appeared online at

Until now, there has really been no valid research showing whether the Human Growth Hormone that we read so much about in the sports news recently really helps athletes achieve better performance. In the Annals of Internal Medicine, a recent article shows that in trained recreational athletes there is in fact a transient improvement in sprint performance in both men and women using HGH. The improvement is even greater when combined with testosterone in male athletes.

An 8 week course of HGH improves sprint performance by almost 4% in both men and women, and when combined with testosterone improved sprint performance in men by about 8%. This benefit was lost after a 6 week “wash-out” period. Though this may seem minor, the authors suggest that a 4% difference in time in a world class sprint event is the difference between first place and last place. There was insufficient data in the study to comment on long term adverse effects of the treatment. Anti-doping efforts in HGH detection are suboptimal, so this is likely to remain a popular performance improving drug in athletes.

Ed Pullen, MD, is a board-certified family physician practicing in Puyallup, WA. He blogs at — A Medical Bog for the Informed Patient.

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