Weight Management Hormone Replacement Men’s Health Women's Health

Benefits and Risks of Growth Hormone Therapy

Article Summary

Growth Hormone therapy offers metabolic improvements, cardiovascular benefits, and muscle gain potential. Recent studies explore its impact on body composition, suggesting potential for increased lean mass. Understanding Growth Hormone therapy aids in optimizing treatment outcomes for patients with growth issues and deficiencies.

Benefits and Risks of Growth Hormone Therapy

Many believe that growth hormone (GH) therapy has completely changed how growth problems and GH deficiencies are treated.[1] However as it is with any treatment plan, there are considerations to be made when evaluating the risks associated with a treatment plan. Here are three factors providers should evaluate while prescribing GH: metabolic parameters, cardiovascular health and cancer risk. These considerations help us to better understand the dangers and improve treatment regimens.

1. Metabolic Parameters

It has been shown that GH therapy affects metabolic factors such as body composition, lipid profile and insulin sensitivity.[2] Recent studies are exploring the connection between GH Therapy and body composition.[3] There is potential to increase lean body mass, but more randomized placebo-controlled studies are needed.[3] The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) guidelines for the Management of Growth Hormone Deficiency in Adults and Patients Transitioning from Pediatric to Adult Care suggest that GH replacement therapy improves body composition by reducing fat mass.[2] So for those with deficiency, a benefit of growth hormone therapy is healthy weight loss and muscle gain.

2. Cardiovascular Health

It is crucial for providers to learn how GH medication affects cardiovascular health since patients with GH deficiencies have an increased risk of complications. Long-term GH replacement therapy in GH-deficient individuals was linked to improvements in cardiac function, the role of GH in regulating peripheral vascular resistance, vascular reactivity and maintaining normal vascular function in humans, according to research by Li et al (2008).[4]

3. Cancer Risk

It is crucial to examine any connections between GH use, cumulative GH dosages, and the risk of developing cancer or mortality. An important resource in this risk is one of the largest growth hormone studies, the SAGhE (Safety and Appropriateness of Growth Hormone Treatments in Europe). A cohort study, the SAGhE examined 24, 232 patients across 8 European countries with more than 400,000 patient-years of follow-up. More than half of the study population was treated for growth failure, 13% for Turner Syndrome and 12% for GHD associated with neoplasia.[4][5][6][7]

Understanding Growth Hormone Therapy

Understanding the effects of GH therapy on metabolic parameters, cardiovascular health, and cancer risk aids in developing a thorough understanding of the treatment outcome. According to research, GH replacement therapy can improve lipid profiles and body composition while also increasing cardiac function and vascular indicators, which benefits cardiovascular health. Even though there is conflicting evidence on cancer risk, it emphasizes the value of ongoing monitoring and follow-up in patients receiving GH therapy. Clinicians can minimize potential hazards and maximize the advantages of GH therapy for individuals with growth problems and GH deficits by modifying treatment procedures considering these findings. Learn more about Growth Hormone Therapy.

  1. Díez JJ, Sangiao-Alvarellos S, Cordido F. Treatment with Growth Hormone for Adults with Growth Hormone Deficiency Syndrome: Benefits and Risks. Int J Mol Sci. 2018 Mar 17;19(3):893. doi: 10.3390/ijms19030893. PMID: 29562611; PMCID: PMC5877754. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5877754/
  2. Yuen K, Biller B, Radovick S, Carmichael J, Jasim S, Pantalone K, Hoffman A. American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists and American College of Endocrinology Guidelines for Management of Growth Hormone Deficiency in Adults and Patients Transitioning from Pediatric to Adult Care. Endocrine Practice. 25:11, (2019) https://doi.org/10.4158/GL-2019-0405.
  3. Silvia, R., Marta, F., Manuela, A., Federico, G., Lara, V., Diego, F., & Mara, B. (2021). Frontiers in Endocrinology . Frontiers in Endocrinology. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fendo.2021.680579
  4. Li G, Del Rincon JP, Jahn LA, Wu Y, Gaylinn B, Thorner MO, Liu Z. Growth hormone exerts acute vascular effects independent of systemic or muscle insulin-like growth factor I. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2008 Apr;93(4):1379-85. doi: 10.1210/jc.2007-2021. Epub 2008 Jan 8. PMID: 18182451; PMCID: PMC2291494 https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article/93/4/1379/2826694?login=false
  5. Anthony J. Swerdlow and others, Cancer Risks in Patients Treated With Growth Hormone in Childhood: The SAGhE European Cohort Study, The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, Volume 102, Issue 5, 1 May 2017, Pages 1661–1672, https://doi.org/10.1210/jc.2016-2046
  6. Sävendahl, L., Cooke, R., Tidblad, A., Beckers, D., Butler, G., Cianfarani, S., Clayton, P., Coste, J., Hokken-Koelega, A., Kiess, W., Kuehni, C., Albertsson-Wikland, K., Deodati, A., Ecosse, E., Gausche, R., Giacomozzi, C., Konrad, D., Landier, F., Pfaeffle, R., … Swerdlow, A. (2020). Long-term mortality after childhood growth hormone treatment: the SAGhE cohort study. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2213-8587(20)30163-7. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2213858720301637
  7. Swerdlow AJ, Cooke R, Albertsson-Wikland K, Borgström B, Butler G, Cianfarani S, Clayton P, Coste J, Deodati A, Ecosse E, Gausche R, Giacomozzi C, Kiess W, Hokken-Koelega AC, Kuehni CE, Landier F, Maes M, Mullis PE, Pfaffle R, Sävendahl L, Sommer G, Thomas M, Tollerfield S, Zandwijken GR, Carel JC. Description of the SAGhE Cohort: A Large European Study of Mortality and Cancer Incidence Risks after Childhood Treatment with Recombinant Growth Hormone. Horm Res Paediatr. 2015;84(3):172-83. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4611066/

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