July 23, 2014 — Twice as many American high school students have reported using Human Growth Hormone (hGH) since 2012, according to data from a confidential survey conducted by the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids.
The increase is likely due to the growing popularity of “fitness-enhancing” dietary supplements that claim to contain hGH or steroids. Teenagers can buy these products over the internet or in retail stores. They are appealing to young people looking to improve athletic performance or appearance.
Last year, the survey found that 11% of 3,705 high school students reported “ever having used” synthetic hGH without a prescription — more than twice the 5% reported in 2012. Researchers also found a strong correlation with an increasing use of steroids, which grew from 5% in 2009 to 7% in 2013.
About 22% of teens were aware that steroids and hGH were marketed over the internet, but fewer teens believed the products were dangerous.
Steve Pasierb, head of the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, warned that hGH supplements are proliferating rapidly and should be more tightly regulated. While he doubted that all of the teens who reported using synthetic hGH actually received a prescription-strength medication, he was concerned about safety risks:
“Supplement products appear on store shelves without regulation from the Food and Drug Administration and must actually be proven unsafe before being removed from sale… That creates a false perception of safety driving impressionable teens to risk their health with potentially dangerous products that are untested.”
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