What is Palumboism?
Palumboism is a rare but serious condition affecting athletes and bodybuilders who abuse Human Growth Hormone(HGH) beyond the recommended dose. People with palumboism suffer from an abnormally enlarged stomach despite having a lean muscular build due to daily or frequent use of Human Growth Hormone along with Insulin.
Who is Palumboism named after?
Palumboism was named after Dave Palumbo, the first bodybuilder in whom the condition was profound enough to be diagnosed as a consequence of HGH abuse. Although he never was a professional bodybuilder, he was actively working towards a career in bodybuilding from 1995 to 2004 with a whopping body weight of 300 pounds.
Who can be affected by Palumboism?
Although the exact pathophysiology of Palumboism is not well understood, it is believed to be due to hypersensitivity to the human growth hormone. Growth Hormone exerts its effects on the entire body and is not just involved in muscle development. Due to its multi-organ effect, it results in organomegaly of the visceral organs which is responsible for the enlarged abdomen. It can even be thought of as a form of induced acromegaly as it is highly similar to its presentation as well as the underlying mechanism.
The similarities between Acromegaly and Palumboism
Acromegaly is a result of an abnormality in the pituitary gland such as a pituitary adenoma resulting in excessive secretion of growth hormone. In acromegaly, the condition can take up to 12 years to diagnose due to the gradual progressive disease course. Patients present with complaints of joint pain, progressively increasing shoe or glove size, and even abdominal enlargement. All of these symptoms are due to abnormal secretion of growth hormone for prolonged durations resulting in enlarged joints, cartilage, organs, hands, and feet. The condition can be fatal as it could lead to cardiovascular failure from cardiomyopathy.
Similar findings can be found in those abusing HGH. Apart from enlarged abdominal viscera, cardiomegaly can also be a consequence of excessive chronic use of HGH which can result in sudden cardiac death from fatal arrhythmias or heart failure from ventricular hypertrophy of the heart.
What causes the abdominal enlargement seen in Palumboism?
In Palumboism, the oblique and rectus abdominis muscles on the abdomen enlarge to such an extent that the abdomen has a protruded enlarged appearance. Due to its distinct appearance, Palumboism has also been called steroid or roid gut, HGH bloat, HGH gut, bodybuilder belly, muscle gut, bubble gut, insulin gut, etc.
Although a rare condition, Palumboism has been found in increasing frequency in bodybuilders. It came to light during the 1990s when bodybuilding competitions became a platform for fame and competition. However, HGH is not the sole contributor to the development of this condition. People consuming a high-calorie diet with a significant proportion of carbohydrates using HGH along with insulin were found to be at the highest risk of developing this condition.
Can Palumboism be treated?
Because Palumboism is a rare condition, there have been limited studies on how to treat it thereby rendering it impossible to establish any guideline to treat it.
But perhaps the first step should be to stop further usage of HGH, insulin, and limit calorie intake allowing the body to rest from the excessive stress it has been on during the duration of HGH intake. Additionally, any person suffering from the classic symptoms of Palumboism needs to consult a specialist who is experienced in sports and rehabilitation as the specialist will undoubtedly have faced similar situations with other athletes.
How to take HGH without the developing Palumboism?
HGH is not recommended for adults or children unless advised by a physician for the treatment of a confirmed diagnosis of growth hormone deficiency. For adults seeking methods to enhance their growth hormone levels, there are alternative methods such as maintaining periods of hypoglycemia, adequate exercise, proper sleep, and even some natural growth hormone secretion enhancers. However, injection of recombinant HGH is not advisable simply to enhance muscle growth even for athletes.