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October 13, 1993

Growth Hormone Therapy for the Elderly: The Fountain of Youth Proves Toxic

Author Affiliations

Washington University School of Medicine St Louis, Mo

JAMA. 1993;270(14):1694. doi:10.1001/jama.1993.03510140054027

To the Editor.  —We1 and others2,3 have proposed the use of recombinant human growth hormone (GH) therapy for the elderly in an attempt to retard the undesirable changes in muscle mass and function, body fat, and bone mineral content associated with advancing age, and the subsequent impact these have on health care costs. Our initial enthusiasm for this idea has declined as the result of an unexpectedly high incidence of side effects of GH therapy in this population.In 12 healthy older men (63 to 76 years of age) and two women (68 and 73 years of age) who received daily GH (12.5 γg/kg per day, n=12) or placebo injections (n=2) for 4 months to assess the effects of GH therapy on body composition and muscle strength, we have experienced a notable subject attrition rate related to symptoms of carpal tunnel compression, fluid retention, and arthralgia—complications not frequently