Tiger Woods’ Doctor Admits to Prescribing Human Growth Hormone
July 7th, 2011
The well-known sports medicine doctor Anthony Galea, whose clients include Tiger Woods, Alex Rodriguez, and Carlos Beltran, pleaded guilty yesterday to smuggling illegal performance enhancing drugs into the country. Despite being unlicensed to work in the U.S., Galea’s list of clients included many professional golfers and football and baseball players. None of his clients have been identified as having taken illegal substances, partially thanks to Galea’s guilty plea, which eliminates the need for investigations into his patient records. Rodriguez has stated to the press that Galea gave him anti-inflammatory drugs and no performance-enhancing substances.
Among the illegal substances Galea brought in was human growth hormone (HGH), a substance naturally produced by the pituitary gland. HGH production slows down as we age, resulting in decreased bone and muscle mass and greater body fat; HGH supporters therefore argue that when the hormone is injected suplementarily, it can increase muscle mass and metabolism, often citing a 1990 study which found these effects in twelve 60 year old men injected with HGH. However, subsequent studies have found that adults with a deficiency in HGH can gain muscle mass and lose body fat when given injections, but these effects are unseen in individuals with normal HGH levels; therefore, the drug’s efficacy as an “age reversing” agent is questionable.
Furthermore, any attempted dip into the fountain of youth should be considered with caution, and HGH injections are no exception. Excess doses of the hormone have been shown to alter carbohydrate metabolism, sometimes ending in diabetes. HGH also promotes arthritis and high blood pressure, but perhaps its most worrisome side effect is its promotion of unchecked cell growth, i.e. cancer. Comparisons have been drawn between HGH and hormone-replacement therapy for menopausal women, a “treatment” that was shown to significantly increase the risk of breast cancer.
All in all, where health and the law are concerned, HGH may be too much risk and too little payoff.