Use of performance enhancing drugs defies logic

Hot stove baseball season should be at its peak this month. “Hot stove baseball” is a time-honored tradition where baseball fans discuss and often argue about trades their favorite team should be making in the off-season.

In New England, the issues typically revolve around the Yankees’ and Red Sox’ preparations for the upcoming season. These discussions take place in bars, at work, and often on sports radio stations where fans call in at all hours of the night to advocate for a big trade.

This year, these colorful arguments have unfortunately been replaced by a media blitz involving players suspected of injecting their bodies with performance enhancing drugs.

The latest culprit in this scandal is Human Growth Hormone (HGH). Many questions have been raised regarding its use:

What is HGH?

HGH is a substance produced by the pituitary gland in the brain. It promotes growth in childhood and supports tissues and organs throughout life. It is an integral part of a complex series of hormonal interactions which make up the endocrine system.

Why is it used?

Synthetic HGH is approved for use in children with short stature or kidney failure. It is also used for adults with muscle wasting from AIDS.

Why would an athlete use HGH?

Athletes use HGH to increase muscle mass and reduce body fat. It will also increase exercise capacity. Interestingly, a recent study demonstrated increased muscle mass in healthy adults but no increase in strength.

What are the dangers of HGH?

There are many risks to using HGH including high blood pressure, diabetes, hardening of the arteries, and muscle pain.

Use of HGH is against the rules in many sports. Currently, it can only be found in a blood sample. HGH may not provide an athlete much of a physical advantage and will put users at risk for life threatening chronic illnesses. After assessing the risks and benefits, using HGH as a supplement defies logic.

The turmoil created by these latest accusations has left fans in search of the truth listening to interviews and testimony by their favorite players. Many never thought they’d see the day when they missed hearing “John from the Bronx” or “Mike from Springfield” calling in to tell Theo Epstein and Brian Cashman how to do their job.

If you wish to learn more about human growth hormone, listen to the podcast at Norwich Bulletin or Backus Hospital.

Originally published January 15, 2008.

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