The use of performance-enhancing drugs by our youth is an important public health issue which has been unequivocally shown to extend beyond elite and professional level sport. Recent findings from the Partnership Attitude Tracking Study showed that in 2013, 11 percent of teens reported using synthetic human growth hormone (hGH) at least once within their lifetime without a doctor’s prescription – a significant twofold increase compared to the approximately 5-6 percent consistently reported over the past five years. The root of this significant increase remains unclear. However, it presents an alarming trend toward youth engaging in potentially detrimental behavior to health and long term well-being during critical years in physical and mental development.
Growth hormone is produced naturally by the body to maintain a number of vital biological functions. But the use and abuse of synthetic hGH as a performance- and image-enhancing drug, as well as its marketing to healthy individuals as a drug that will improve “lifestyle” and well-being, is increasing. Synthetic hGH has reportedly long been used as a performance-enhancing drug in sport and is frequently used in combination with other performance-enhancing drugs, such as steroids.