Testosterone therapy, hGH therapy, anti-aging products and the potential for doping in sports: “Is it low T?”

Testosterone

We have noted with great interest the influx of testosterone therapy products that are spreading throughout the market.  This is one of the largest segments of growth seen in anti-aging medicine and indeed in general medical treatments.  All it takes is to watch TV and see commercials like the ‘Is it Low T’ campaign to see the prevalence of such treatments in the world today. 

Now certainly, there are legitimate purposes for treatment with testosterone as the campaign highlights.  In fact, the list is long and the treatment can be effective. 

Nonetheless, the potential to abuse the availability of testosterone treatments or use them for doping purposes is high.  It is not dissimilar to the use of another popular so-called anti-aging medicine, human Growth Hormone (hGH).  The use and abuse we describe is simple to comprehend. 

In both cases a patient can come to a clinic and get tested for testosterone or hGH and be compared to a ‘normal’ scale.  If the patient is below optimal in the scale then a treatment would likely be offered.  But what exactly is normal and how is it determined?  Perhaps more importantly, if you come in as a normal 35-year-old male athlete and your testosterone is measured at 75% of normal, should you be offered treatment to bring you up to 95%, maybe 99%?  Why not 150% and return you to your prime?  What is the limit? 

The point is exacerbated when applying it to hGH, a human hormone that is secreted by the body in cycles.  Once again, if your hGH level is measured to be low, should you be offered treatment, and how much?  How do you know if you were tested at a low or high point in the cycle? 

In a recent conversation we came across someone who works for such a clinic, which shall remain nameless.  During the course of the casual discussion the topic turned to the clientele.  The question was asked, off the cuff, “Surely you must have some athletes as clients?”  The answer not surprisingly was, “Yes.” 

The potential for doping with these natural hormones remains high.  While detection methods are in place, the game is getting complicated.  People we speak to who are close to the anti-aging industry describe claims of bioidentical testosterone that can thwart current testing methodologies.  Now, we know that such claims have been made before, many have been proven to be a farce, but others have shown to be all too true.  After all, when the now infamous BALCO chemist Patrick Arnold got out of prison he said he planned not to pursue further work in the dietary supplement industry, but rather he was turning to anti-aging. 

We are interested in exploring some of these issues further, and hope you are too.

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