Tag Archives: aging

Find Out What’s New for Treatment of Hot Flashes


With menopause comes the onset of hot flashes. These are the result of the drop in estrogen in the blood. Replacing estrogen is the most effective way of eliminating hot flashes but because of the health risks, taking estrogen replacement is an unacceptable option for many women. A recent study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology reports on the use of other prescription drugs that can alleviate hot flashes. Watch my video on the subject for a more in depth discussion.

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Adopted Children Experience Early Sexual Maturity


Puberty occurs when areas within the brain awaken beginning a cascade of hormone signals which conclude with the gonads (ovaries and testicles) increasing their production of the female and male sex hormones estrogen and testosterone. Under the influence of these hormones a child begins the transition from childhood to sexual maturity. In boys puberty is associated with a growth spurt, the appearance of facial, axillary (arm pit) and pubic hair, acne, deepening of the voice, growth of the testicles and penis while girls undergo a growth spurt, develop breasts, acne, pubic and axillary hair, and growth of the clitoris.

Historical data shows the average age of puberty today is many years sooner than in previous generations. Most experts attribute earlier puberty to better nutrition. A recent article in metabolism.com reviewed how “over-nutrition” accelerates obese children into puberty sooner (referred to as precocious puberty) than normal weight children. The latest studies on causes of precocious puberty suggests that a child’s social environment also exerts an important influence on the timing of puberty. Researchers in Madrid publishing in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism 95:4305 2010 analyzed the age of puberty in normal children, adopted children and children whose families immigrated (children not adopted but subject to high levels of personal stress) to Spain. Adopted children were 25 times more likely than other groups of children to undergo precocious puberty (breast development before the age of 8 years in girls, and boys under 9 years of age with testicular growth). Over-all girls were 11 times more likely than boys to demonstrate precocious puberty.

Researchers speculate that socio-emotional stresses early in life of children who are later adopted result in changes in the brain that cause premature maturation of vital nerve pathways. This early brain maturation later results in stimulation of the pituitary gland, turning on the hormone pathways that cause puberty. This seems strange to me because various forms of deprivation in childhood can also delay puberty. For example, girls who have anorexia remain child-like in their body development and may fail to menstruate even into their late teens. A decade ago I studied hormone levels in adults during the stress of illness and surgery and found this lowered the sex hormone levels in their blood. This makes sense from an evolutionary point of view because during stressful conditions nature wisely cuts off the reproductive hormones. Why make babies if the environment is hostile in some way? Why the opposite occurs in children under stress of adoption is an interesting but unanswered question.

Gary Pepper, M.D.,
Editor-in-Chief, metabolism.com

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Growth Hormone Deficiency Tied to Obesity and Accelerated Aging in Young Adults


Due to the potential for abuse and high cost, growth hormone treatment in adults is the subject of much controversy. I believe that treating adults with growth hormone deficiency is many times an appropriate and beneficial choice. Firming up my conviction for treating adult growth hormone deficiency is a recent study conducted in the Netherlands and UK published in the Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism (JCEM 95:3664-3674, 2010). The researchers compared Body Mass Index (BMI), waist circumference, triglycerides, and HDL (good cholesterol), between normal adults and those with low growth hormone levels due to deficient pituitary function (hypopituitarism). All measurements of obesity and lipid metabolism were significantly worse in the young adults (younger than 57 years) with growth hormone deficiency compared to normal adults of a similar age.

As I pointed out in previous articles at metabolism.com, growth hormone levels naturally decline as we get older. The authors of the present study note that growth hormone levels decline 14% per decade in adults. I conceive of this as one of the ways nature gets rid of us after we complete our biological/reproductive functions, since without growth hormone our muscles, immune and nervous systems, decline, leading to death. It’s planned obsolescence… what is typically referred to as aging. In the recent study senior citizens have equivalent levels of obesity and abnormal lipid metabolism as young adults with growth hormone deficiency. The authors note the effect on the body of growth hormone deficiency in young adults is equivalent to 40 years of aging. The theory that growth hormone functions to preserve our tissues during youth and aging results from its absence, appears confirmed by these results.

Most normal young adults aren’t growth hormone deficient and the population that would qualify for growth hormone treatment from this group is small. What about older adults with low growth hormone who are troubled by the “natural” decline in their body function? Should or could we treat this much larger population with growth hormone? It is my experience that private and federal insurers will not pay for this treatment regarded as “cosmetic”. On the other hand, there will be physicians who will comply with a request for growth hormone treatment from individuals who possess enough cash and motivation. Less affluent or determined individuals will have to contend with natural aging just as our ancestors have done for thousands of years.

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice or treatment.

Gary Pepper, M.D.
Editor-in-Chief, metabolism.com.

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Can Growth Hormone Treatment Make Me Taller?


At metabolism.com we receive a lot of questions from members wondering whether growth hormone therapy will help them grow taller. Lorraine’s question, posted below, is typical. The single most important factor determining the effect of growth hormone on improving height, is whether the bone still has growth plates that are “open” because when the growth plates close (or fuse), the bone cannot get any longer. If the bone’s in the legs cannot grow full adult height has been achieved and taking growth hormone won’t change that.

Here is Lorraine’s question and below that is my response.

Lorraine writes to metabolism.com:

I’m 21 years old and am only 4 “10. Is there any way that HGH injections could help me grow a couple of inches? Please respond back to my question because I need to know if its too late since I already hit puberty.

My response to Lorraine is the following (I’m assuming Lorraine is really 21…not 12)

Lorraine:

From the time of birth we grow rapidly in good part due to the action of growth hormone which is released from the pituitary gland.

At puberty the release of testosterone in boys and estrogen in girls begins the process of final bone maturation. Children often experience a period of rapid growth known as a growth spurt at this time. Girls usually complete their growth spurt within a year or two of their first menstrual period. Boys tend to finish their growth phase when they are older compared to girls.

Growth ends because the areas of the bones known as the growth plates become sealed or fused. After that growth hormone has little effect to cause increased height. Bones in the face, feet and hands may still be susceptible to growth effects of growth hormone, with not particularly desirable results.

An adult who has not grown in a few years cannot generally get taller in response to growth hormone due to the fusion of their long bones. Taking HGH is unlikely to make you taller.

Aside from controlling height, growth hormone is likely to have other non-growth related benefits like preserving muscle and soft tissue and perhaps other general maintenance functions in the immune and central nervous systems. These benefits of growth hormone can be lost during aging since the pituitary production of growth hormone usually declines in later years.

I hope this information is helpful for you.

Disclaimer: This information does not substitute for the advice of your own physician and is for general learning purposes only.

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