Growth hormone administration: is it safe and effective for athletic performance

Endocrinol Metab Clin North Am. 2010 Mar;39(1):11-23, vii. doi: 10.1016/j.ecl.2009.10.007.


Human growth hormone (GH) is widely abused by athletes; however, there is little evidence that GH improves physical performance. Replacement of GH in GH deficiency improves some aspects of exercise capacity. There is evidence for a protein anabolic effect of GH in healthy adults and for increased lean body mass following GH, although fluid retention likely contributes to this increase. The evidence suggests that muscle strength, power, and aerobic exercise capacity are not enhanced by GH administration, however GH may improve anaerobic exercise capacity. There are risks of adverse effects of long-term abuse of GH. Sustained abuse of GH may lead to a state mimicking acromegaly, a condition with increased morbidity and mortality.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aerobiosis
  • Anaerobiosis
  • Athletic Performance*
  • Body Composition
  • Doping in Sports / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Exercise / physiology
  • Human Growth Hormone / administration & dosage*
  • Human Growth Hormone / adverse effects
  • Human Growth Hormone / deficiency*
  • Humans
  • Muscle Strength
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Proteins / metabolism
  • Risk Factors


  • Proteins
  • Human Growth Hormone