Teen Growth Hormone Usage Rising
Performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) have been a topic of much debate amongst professionals of multiple fields, involving legal, medical, and even ethical issues. Although many individuals choose to use some sort of PEDs for a variety of reasons, there is a growing concern as the usage of synthetic human growth hormone (HGH) amongst high school students is rising.
A Growing Concern
A recent survey of 3,705 kids found 11% of high school teens reported the use of synthetic HGH without a prescription. It’s not just athletes who are reporting to using HGH. There was no difference in involvement in athletics between HGH users and non-users.
The majority of sports scandals have involved the use of steroids, and the recent study confirmed a steady, long-term increase in teens’ reported steroid use in their lifetime. The percentage increased from 5% in 2009 to 7% in 2013 among teens; however, HGH use has doubled from last year.
Travis Tygart, the CEO of the US Anti-Doping Agency, reported that the numbers are “alarming” but not surprising. He continues to state that the pressures to win and stay competitive in every level of sports are increasing, as they offer the chance for children to potentially receive a scholarship for university.
What Is HGH?
Synthetic HGH is prescribed to treat growth disorders in children, hormone growth deficiency in adults, a muscle-wasting disease associated with HIV/AIDS. It has been available since 1985. Without a prescription for these conditions, it can be used for muscle growth purposes.
There are numerous influences and examples on which children choose to start using synthetic HGH as numerous professional athletes use the substance, although it is not reported. MLB was the first of the major U.S. sports leagues to start utilizing in-season testing for HGH. Even for non-athletes, there is pressure leading to HGH use. It was found in a pediatric study that 18% of adolescent boys were highly concerned with their physique, height, and weight. Interestingly enough, the expected gender appeal of HGH use also appeals to women as there was no statistical difference between the reported use of synthetic HGH use between teen boys and teen girls.
Cost Of Human Growth Hormone
Synthetic HGH is expensive, ranging from $125 to $250 a week for daily injections. This is the cost of prescription HGH, so although there are cheaper non-prescription options, they are regulated by the Federal Trade Commission, whose regulations are much looser when compared to the FDA. Numerous HGH supplements state that their products contain HGH, which may or may not be true. There is a misconception that if a product reaches the shelf that it must be okay. However, products are only removed from the market if they are proven to be harmful.
The study, however, did find that only 8 percent of teens agreed that PED use in sports was okay “if it’s the only way to win,” and this percentage is continually declining. Steve Pasierb, the president and CEO of the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, reports that this could be an opportunity for parents to discuss the risks and side effects of HGH with their children. His group’s research demonstrates that kids who live in households where their parents reinforce the dangers and potential health consequences of drugs lead to lower levels of drug use compared to peers whose parents did not.