Dr. Andrew Weil, AARP, Human Growth Hormone, HGH
by Jeffrey Dach MD
Dr. Andrew Weil Says Human Growth Hormone is "Snake Oil"
Perhaps you have seen the Andrew Weil article entitled, "Dr. Debunker: The Truth About the Fountain of Youth" in the June 2007 AARP magazine which gives retired folks advice about anti-aging and longevity.(1) I have considerable respect for Dr. Weil and have followed his work over the years. However, after reading his article, my opinion of Dr. Weil has changed. This article is such poor quality and contains so many factual errors and errors of omission, that it raises serious questions about the author. This article will explain why human growth hormone is not a snake oil product, rather, it is an FDA approved pharmaceutical with many health benefits.
Image at left: Stanley's Snake Oil Liniment 1920 Courtesy of Wikipedia
Dr. Weil the Debunker omits bioidentical estrogen and progesterone for post menopausal women, and the many health benefits such as reduction in heart disease in women. (1A)
He also omits testosterone for males with declining testosterone levels. This story was again told by golf star Shawn Micheel in Golf Digest.(2) Dr. Debunker omits the multiple medical reports showing that males with low testosterone have a higher mortality.(3)(4)
Dr. Debunker also omits low thyroid evaluation, Vitamin B12 levels, vitamin D levels, Vitamin C Supplementation, and Iodine Supplementation, all of which are important for health, well being and longevity for the over 50.(5)
Rather than discussing the above important topics, Dr. Debunker concentrates on Human Growth Hormone (HGH) for adults, warning us that HGH is a form of "snake oil" treatment. Perhaps Dr. Weil could explain the logic of how a patented, FDA approved pharmaceutical drug with proven efficacy can be called "snake oil".(6)(7)(8)
The Dr. Debunker article fails to tell us that our hormone levels decline dramatically after age 50, and "by the age of 60 most adults have Growth Hormone levels indistinguishable from those of hypopituitary patients with organic lesions in the pituitary gland."(9)
The Dr. Debunker article gives the mistaken impression there is only one single medical publication (Rudman NEJM 1990) which reports the beneficial effects of growth hormone on the physical parameters of aging.(10)(11)
Volumes of Research on Growth Hormone Over Many Years
In reality there has been over 20 years of research with thousands of medical studies showing benefits from Growth Hormone therapy, and extremely high safety profile. A few of these many medical research studies are listed on the Ron Rothenberg MD Web Site.(12)
Benefits of (HGH) growth hormone include improved body composition, increased muscle and less body fat, improved bone density, improved wound healing, improved cognitive function, and improved sense of well being. Burn victims heal faster with growth hormone and have increased muscle protein synthesis. Patients with Crohn's disease and short bowel syndrome show improved nutritional status with HGH treatment. Cardiac cachexia patients gain weight, get well and leave the hospital. There are studies showing improvement in cognitive function, and improvement in quality of life with HGH. (13)(14)(15)(16)(17)(18)(19)(20)(21)(22) (23)(24)(25)(26)(27)
Image at left: human growth hormone protein structure courtesy of wikipedia, created with the data set from Protein Data Bank and the free program Rasmol.
Dr. Debunker mistakenly assumes human growth hormone is given to aging adults to lengthen their years. This couldn't be farther from the truth, and is a straw man argument. This is not the intended use of human growth hormone by anti-aging docs like Ron Rothenberg, MD, a pioneer in Anti-Aging Medicine and Board Certified by the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine. Dr. Rothenberg gives the Growth Hormone lectures at the medical meetings, and he treats hundreds of patients with growth hormone therapy at the California Healthspan Institute.(28)
Ron Rothenberg MD
Left Image: Courtesy of Ron Rothenberg MD and WorldHealth.net
Dr. Rothenberg's goal is not to lengthen lifespan; rather it is to improve the QUALITY of our lifespan. I spoke with Dr. Rothenberg after his lecture at the medical meeting. He is outgoing and personable fellow who appears younger than his stated age of 62, and he continues to be an avid California surfer with videos of himself surfing on his web site.(29)
Image Below: Surfing Courtesy of Wikipedia
Here is what Dr. Ron Rothenberg says about human growth hormone therapy for adult deficiency: "As anti-aging physicians, our goal is to help our patients stay strong and vigorous as long as possible without gradual and protracted deterioration. We know Growth Hormone Replacement Therapy is a proven defense against frailty, and when added to lifestyle, this is our chance to stay stronger and more functional. If we were to stay perfect, why intervene? But since we don't, this is one way to maintain function while we await the genetic and biochemical therapies that will be available in the near future.
These patients are happier and healthier. Just ask one. " (30) This is good advice for Dr. Andrew Weil the Debunker, who should actually talk to the people over 50 who benefit from human growth hormone therapy as part of a comprehensive wellness program.
Growth Hormone is Legal
Dr. Weil the Debunker also makes the grievous factual error in stating that human growth hormone therapy for adult deficiency is illegal. Again this couldn't be farther from the truth. If this were true, the 15,000 members of the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine, many of whom are board certified MD's, would already be in jail, a scenario, so ludicrous as to be laughable. In reality, well trained anti-aging physicians perform a complete medical workup including history, physical examination and extensive laboratory testing which includes tests for growth hormone levels (such as IGF-1), and then treat for the FDA approved indication of Adult Growth Hormone Deficiency.(33) In addition, there is follow up with serial blood testing to ensure safety. Contrary to what Dr. Weil says, I assure you this is VERY legal.
Opposition by Mainstream Medicine
It is certainly true that mainstream medicine differs from the position of the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine on the use human growth hormone for aging adults, and this is for political reasons. Growth hormone is expensive, and would bankrupt the health insurance industry and Medicare program. It is also certainly true that human growth hormone is an FDA approved pharmaceutical which has been proven effective, and therefore "snake oil" is hardly an appropriate label.
Beware High Presure Sales Operations on the Internet
Of course there are problems. There are hordes of disreputable boiler room operations selling Growth Hormone on the internet without adequate medical supervision. The buyer should beware of these types of operations, beware of purchasing counterfeit drugs, and avoid purchasing Growth Hormone or any other prescription drugs over the phone from strangers. It is highly recommended that you have a close personal relationship with a knowledgeable physician with the proper training to oversee the program and monitor for adverse side effects. (31) To find such a physician, use the Doctor's Directory at the American Academy.(32) For more information on HGH human growth hormone see my web site.(33)
Articles with Related Interest:
Anna Nicole Smith and Growth Hormone Hypothyroidism and Thyroflex
Jeffrey Dach MD
4700 Sheridan Suite T
Hollywood Fl 33021
Dr. Debunker, The Truth About the Fountain of Youth, By Andrew Weil, M.D., May & June 2007, AARP Magazine How to live a healthy, vigorous—and long—life. No gimmicks
Estrogen Therapy and Coronary-Artery Calcification NEJM Volume 356:2591-2602 June 21, 2007 Number 25 JoAnn E. Manson, M.D., et al. This study shows less coronary artery calcifications in wiomen on estrogen.
A hero's role that fit him to a T By Tom Callahan Golf Digest. A diagnosis of low testosterone helped Micheel turn around his life. "I wasn't myself," he says. By Tom Callahan Golf Digest August 2006
Low Serum Testosterone and Mortality in Male Veterans Molly M. Shores, MD; Alvin M. Matsumoto, MD; Kevin L. Sloan, MD; Daniel R. Kivlahan, PhD. Arch Intern Med. 2006;166:1660-1665.
Low Testosterone Levels Linked to Increased Mortality By Jeffrey Perkel HealthDay Reporter Wednesday, June 6, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- Men 50 and older with low levels of testosterone may be at higher risk of dying within 20 years than men with higher levels of the male hormone, a new study suggests.
Jeffrey Dach MD, Blog site.
Growth Hormone Patent
FDA New Drug Development Process:Steps from Test Tube to New Drug Application Review
USA TODAY: FDA approves growth hormone WASHINGTON (AP)
Growth Hormone - Hormone Replacement for the Somatopause? Richard Savine, Peter Sönksen Department of Medicine, St Thomas' Hospital, London, UK, Growth Hormone Research, Vol. 53, Suppl. 3, 2000
NEJM, Volume 323:1-6 July 5, 1990 Number 1. Effects of human growth hormone in men over 60 years old. D Rudman, AG Feller, HS Nagraj, GA Gergans, PY Lalitha, AF Goldberg, RA Schlenker, L Cohn, IW Rudman, Abstract
NEJM, Volume 323:1-6 July 5, 1990 Number 1. Effects of human growth hormone in men over 60 years old. D Rudman, AG Feller, HS Nagraj, GA Gergans, PY Lalitha, AF Goldberg, RA Schlenker, L Cohn, IW Rudman Full article
Listing of Published Research on Human Growth Hormone, California Healthspan Institute Ron Rothenberg MD
Recombinant human growth hormone accelerates wound healing in children with large cutaneous burns. D A Gilpin, R E Barrow, R L Rutan, L Broemeling, and D N Herndon Shriners Burns Institute, Galveston, Texas. Ann Surg. 1994 July; 220(1): 19–24.
Beneficial Effects of Extended Growth Hormone Treatment After Hospital Discharge in Pediatric Burn Patients. Rene Przkora, MD, PhD, et al. Ann Surg. 2006 June; 243(6): 796–803.
Metabolic effects of recombinant human growth hormone in patients receiving parenteral nutrition. T R Ziegler, L S Young, J M Manson, and D W Wilmore Department of Surgery, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts. Ann Surg. 1988 July; 208(1): 6–16.
The effect of recombinant human growth hormone and resistance training on IGF-I mRNA expression in the muscles of elderly men M Hameed, K H W Lange, J L Andersen, P Schjerling, M Kjaer, S D R Harridge, and G Goldspink. J Physiol. 2004 February 15; 555(Pt 1): 231–240.
Growth Hormone, Glutamine, and an Optimal Diet Reduces Parenteral Nutrition in Patients With Short Bowel Syndrome A Prospective, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Double-Blind Clinical Trial. Theresa A. Byrne et al. Ann Surg. 2005 November; 242(5): 655–661.
Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis and hepatic steatosis in patients with adult onset growth hormone deficiency. T Ichikawa et al. Gut. 2003 June; 52(6): 914.
Perioperative growth hormone treatment and functional outcome after major abdominal surgery: a randomized, double-blind, controlled study. P Kissmeyer-Nielsen et al, Ann Surg. 1999 February; 229(2): 298–302.
The Role of Anabolic Hormones for Wound Healing in Catabolic States. Robert H. Demling, MD et al.
J Burns Wounds. 2005; 4: e2.
Cardiac cachexia treated with HGH. P H Sönksen, F Salomon, R Cuneo, M Umpleby, and S Bowes. BMJ. 1991 March 23; 302(6778): 725–726.
Effects of recombinant human growth hormone on muscle protein turnover in malnourished hemodialysis patients. G Garibotto et al. J Clin Invest. 1997 January 1; 99(1): 97–105.
Metabolic effects of recombinant human growth hormone in patients receiving parenteral nutrition.T R Ziegler et al. Ann Surg. 1988 July; 208(1): 6–16.
BMJ. 2001 January 27; 322(7280): 203. 2001, BMJ Science commentary Insulin-like growth factor and cognitive function Abi Berger, science editor BMJ
Growth hormone, insulin-like growth factor I and cognitive function in adults.van Dam PS et al.Growth Horm IGF Res. 2000 Apr;10 Suppl B:S69-73.
Insulin-like growth factor-I, cognition and brain aging. Van Dam PS et al. Eur J Pharmacol. 2004 Apr 19;490(1-3):87-95.
The role of the somatotropic system in cognition and other cerebral functions. Creyghton WM, van Dam PS et al. Semin Vasc Med. 2004 May;4(2):167-72.
The Doctor's Biography Ron Rothenberg, MD, FACEP , Board Certified American Board of Anti-Aging Medicine
Short clips Dr. Rothenberg surfing at a "secret spot" south of the border.
Adult Growth Hormone Therapy - Clinical Perspectives. Quality of Life Improves with GH Therapy By Ron Rothenberg, MD
Jeffrey Dach MD Web Site Human Growth Hormone Page
Doctors Directory American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine A4M
Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Treatment of Adult Growth Hormone Deficiency
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Jeffrey Dach MD
4700 Sheridan Suite T
Hollywood Fl 33021
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