HGH Use Among Teens on the Rise, According to Survey

A new survey reveals that use of human growth hormone supplements is on the rise among high school students.

A survey recently released by the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids suggests that the use of human growth hormone (HGH) by teenagers has risen since 2012.

The survey found that 11 percent of the 3,705 high school students surveyed admitted to having used HGH "more than once in their lifetime." That number represents a more than twofold increase from the previous year (2012), when only 5 percent of teenagers admitted using HGH. The survey also noted a moderate increase in steroid use among teenagers, from 5 percent to 7 percent.

HGH can be prescribed by a doctor to increase the height of undersized children, or to combat muscle deterioration associated with diseases like AIDS. Illicit use can cause a variety of health complications, from muscle and joint pain to elevated cholesterol levels.

Like HGH, steroids can be used to treat muscle-wasting diseases such as AIDS. Unregulated use, however, can lead to shrunken testicles, impotence and gynecomastia (the development of breasts) in men. Steroids can also lead to heart attacks, fits of rage and severe acne. Possession of steroids is illegal, and can result in a fine, jail time or both.

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African-American and Hispanic teens were more likely than Caucasian teens to report using HGH, with the numbers clocking in at 15 percent, 13 percent and 9 percent, respectively. There was no major difference in reported use between males and females, with 12 percent of teenage boys and 9 percent of teenage girls reporting use of HGH.

The survey also found a strong correlation between the use of steroids and HGH. In addition, it reported that one in five teens knows at least one friend who uses steroids, and another one in five believes it is easy to get steroids.

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In a statement, Steve Pasierb, President and CEO of the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, said, "These are not products that assure safety and efficacy. Prescription and over-the-counter medicines must go through rigorous testing to be proven safe before being sold to the public, but 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."

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