The furor over steroids in professional baseball continues to rise. Roger Clemens categorically denied his steroid usage in a 60 Minutes interview. A fan is suing the New York Yankees, claiming that Yankee players’ reported use of steroids is akin to “consumer fraud.” And the hearings on Capitol Hill continue.
Regarding steroids, I agree with the Boston Metro’s : the competitive advantage conveyed by steroids is so profound that making them legal would be the same as making them mandatory. If you played “clean” in a steroid-happy league, you could not compete. And given the wreckage that anabolic steroids level on the human body, this would destroy the sport of American baseball.
But what about HGH?
HGH, or human growth hormone, is the output of the human body’s pituitary gland. Your body produces it naturally. Your body also produces less of it as you grow older. Some studies suggest that dosing HGH once you’re past your forties may combat the aging process.
The Mayo Clinic advises that HGH increases muscle mass and reduces body fat, but doesn’t necessarily translate into increased strength.
CNN reports that some doctors campaign against HGH usage, citing research that links growth hormone in mice to increases in cancer. But those results have not been documented in humans yet.
Of course, as with any popular scientific breakthrough, a number of scams have arisen to profit off the name. You’ll find websites touting HGH in pill and cream form, despite the fact that it’s only effective when injected. And HGH is still not completely legal – doctors have had their licenses stripped for not running thorough diagnostics before prescribing the hormone.
Read through all the conflicting reports, though, and one conclusion stands out: the downsides of HGH are not as bad, and definitely not as well-proven, as the downsides of steroids. Using steroids is a stupid and destructive way to ruin your body in the name of a paycheck. But HGH is not the same kind of monster.
I’d like to believe that Major League Baseball and their Congressional overlords can separate the hype from the facts. Human Growth Hormone clearly isn’t the same kind of poison that anabolic steroids are. We hope that, if MLB wants to ban HGH, they’ll do so only after the hormone’s effects have been better documented.
We hope, anyway.