Antiaging experts are disputing the conclusions of a study in yesterday’s Journal of the American Medical Association that reported a higher rate of diabetes among older men taking growth hormones in combination with sex steroids.

The study found that growth hormone replacement increased lean body mass and decreased fat in both sexes, and in combination with testosterone significantly improved older men’s cardiovascular endurance.

But the researchers, from the National Institute on Aging Intramural Research Program and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, also reported increased glucose intolerance and diabetes among men.

“Although this study suggests that growth hormone or related substances, particularly given in combination with testosterone in older men, may one day be a promising therapeutic agent in the treatment of certain age-related conditions, it is not ready for prime time,” says Dr. Marc R. Blackman, the study’s lead author.

Conclusion unfounded

That conclusion, however, says the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine, is unfounded.

“Adult growth hormone replacement therapy may cause transient blood sugar elevation during the course of treatment. Short-term blood sugar elevation is not equivalent to diabetic disease,” says the nonprofit medical society in a statement. “The Blackman study does a disservice to the public by suggesting that adult growth hormone replacement therapy leads to the diabetic state and pancreatic damage.”

A4M, as the society’s known, goes on to note that in clinical settings adult growth hormone replacement therapy uses doses that are one-third those used in the Blackman study, and that side effects are minimal when dosages are properly determined and monitored.

It also notes that the majority of peer-reviewed studies of the past 24 months have supported the benefits of growth hormone therapy and found few side effects with proper administration.

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