Who among us would not like to look and feel twenty years younger? With the aging of the baby boomers a huge market has been created for purported anti aging treatments. This is not to say that basic behaviors such as exercise, diet and skin care don’t make a big difference-it’s just that like most Americans, we want a quick fix or if you will- a no effort,just take the medicine approach.

And so arrives human growth hormone. This hormone is made by the pituitary gland located deep within the brain. It has a very limited legitimate medical use for rare medical conditions such as growth hormone failure, short bowel syndrome and a few other very rare diseases. It turns out however that the number of prescriptions for this so called wonder drug are about double the estimated need. Sales are going bonkers .  Over 1.2 billion dollars last year alone, more than sales for either Penicillin or all allergy medicines.

Why then the massive sales? Well, for one Big Pharma, who makes the stuff,  knows very well that growth hormone is being peddled to older adults as a quasi wonder youth drug, more so than the more limited legitimate market. Increased sales means increased profit. Don’t forget however those doctors, most of whom are not endocrinologists, who prescribe the hormone. These physicians often work in  ‘anti aging clinics’ which basically are drug mills for human growth hormone. Some pharmacists and other distributors gladly dispense the hormone, as money can be made.

Ads for growth hormone are very deceiving. Often there are before and after pictures-a dumpy middle aged pot belly guy takes the stuff and sure enough within a short period of time he is Adonis-trim, fit, wrinkles and pot belly gone!

Yet what the ads fail to mention is that growth hormone, which by the way must be injected, has some serious side effects. These include breast enlargement, swelling of the hands and feet and carpal tunnel syndrome. Also on the list are diabetes and heart disease, two serious conditions ironically more common with aging.

The take home message here is simple: If it’s too good to be true it probably isn’t! Time in this universe moves forward-not backward. Think about healthy behaviors such as good food and regular exercise rather than trying to fight time. And if you’re desperate, you can always use Adobe photoshop to virtually eliminate those wrinkles!