Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The HGH Myth

Because they allegedly lied about it, the question of whether Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds took HGH will continue to have legal salience, but it's looking more and more irrelevant as it relates to their baseball legacy:
Human growth hormone may build muscles - but will it make you a faster, stronger and better athlete? Don't count on it, says a new Stanford University study. An analysis of more than two dozen studies of human growth hormone concludes that drug-induced muscles may look impressive - but they don't perform better. In fact, treatment may even cause impairment.

"What we found suggested that it didn't help - and at some point, it might hurt," said lead investigator Hau Liu, formerly of Stanford and now at San Jose's Valley Medical Center. The study was published in Monday's issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

One interesting thing about the study is the finding that the increased mass doesn't lead to increase strength because so much of it is fluid retention instead of actual tissue growth. Oops.

There are tons of caveats in the study so it's not like this is definitive or anything, but the evidence here is nowhere near as thin the evidence that has been used by the ill-informed to suggest that baseball has been ruined or disgraced by PEDs, let alone the evidence used to link many players to their use in the first place.


Anonymous said...

You can say there is a myth, but these players were getting help somehow. How do you explain a Roger Clemens who many baseball people thought was washed up, suddenly winning a Cy Young and performing remarkably after the alleged use of PED's? How about Brady Anderson (who I haven't seen mentioned, but come on) hitting 50 HR's? And then there is Barry Bonds power spike late in his career. While you can say it is fluid retention making them look bigger, something was obviously going on to improve performance of certain players.

Shyster said...

Well, for starters, this study is only about HGH, not steroids, so please don't assume I've got my head in the sand.

That aside, Clemens' 1997-98 resurgence is (1) not as far off his peak numbers from previous years as many believe (people look at the wins and ignore the K/IP ratios); and (2) likely has a lot to do with gaining focus and losing weight after leaving Boston.

This is not to say he never did steroids -- he may very well have -- but I think it's going too far to say that Clemens would have been washed up without them or that he, or Bonds for that matter, are some sort of PED creations. They're both hall of famers even if PEDs never existed.

Jason said...

that "study" is a joke. Like this:

"But the new research has some limitations and sheds no light on long-term use of HGH. The scientists note their analysis included few studies that measured performance. The tests also probably don't reflect the dose and frequency practiced by athletes illegally using the hormone."

Sheds NO light on long term use? say what?

Then this at the end of it:
"Dr. Alan Rogol of the University of Virginia and the Indiana University School of Medicine, said the work was a good review but had to rely on inadequate research. "There are just tons of things we don't know," said Rogol."

Then how on Earth could a study be conclusive if it's based upon inadequate research? Garbage in, garbage out.

If HGH really didn't work, people wouldn't use it. But they do.



sorry about the threadjack, C...

Dave Barnett said...

It seems really irresponsible to label this post "The HGH Myth". There is plenty of evidence that suggests that HGH can increase physical performance in sports.

The article makes it clear that, while the findings are interesting and warrant additional research, they are in no way examining the way professional athletes may use HGH.

1. They didn't test the effects on people who are already some of the best athletes on the planet.

2. They didn't test in the probable dosage that those athletes would use HGH.

3. They didn't test over the same probable length of time those athletes would likely use.

4. They didn't test HGH in combination with other probable drugs those athletes would use.

It's an interesting report (and I'm interested in seeing more study along these lines), but I still think we are pretty far from calling the use of HGH as a performance enhancer a "myth".

Pablo Diablo said...

This sounds like "shystey" research to me. Nevertheless, it was suspected that HGH wasn't ever about getting faster or stronger in the first place. It was more than likely a means to faster recovery and staying healthy enough to play at the top of your game. Health and skill are two halves of the same equation especially when athletes are chasing career milestones such as homerun or strikeout records. So even though HGH may not make you stronger, faster and so forth, it likely enhances athletes in other ways.