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Teens are Using more Growth Hormones, Study Finds

Update Date: Jul 23, 2014 03:10 PM EDT

The pressure to perform well and look good in sports can influence young athletes to make bad decisions. According to the results from a recent survey conducted by anti-drug advocates, American teenagers are reporting a higher use of synthetic human growth hormone (HGH) from 2012 to 2013.

For this survey commissioned by the non-profit Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, the researchers interviewed 3,705 teens that were in high school. They found that 11 percent of the teens reported using HGH at least once without a written prescription from their doctors. This rate represents a five percent jump from the rate calculated in 2012.

"Young people are seeking out and using performance-enhancing substances like synthetic HGH - and supplements purporting to contain HGH - hoping to improve athletic performance or body appearance without really knowing what substances they are putting into their bodies," Steve Pasierb, head of the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, said in a statement reported by HuffPost.

In terms of ethnicities, the researchers found that HGH use was the highest in African-American teens at 15 percent, followed by Hispanic-American teens at 13 percent. Nine percent of the teens that used HGH were Caucasians. Overall, boys used HGH more often than girls at 12 percent versus nine percent. The increase in HGH use among teens is alarming. Children are getting their hands on these products, which can be contaminated or faulty.

"Given the current regulatory framework of the supplement industry, and the amount of products being marketed and sold online, it is difficult if not impossible to know what exactly is contained in these products teens are consuming," Pasierb said reported by CBS News. "The implication for parents, healthcare professionals, policy makers and regulators is that this is an area of apparently growing interest, involvement and potential danger to teens."

Synthetic HGH is typically prescribed for people with muscle-wasting disease linked to HIV/AIDS, hormone deficiency due to rare pituitary tumors and adult short bowel syndrome. HGH can also be prescribed as a long-term treatment for kids with short statures.

The report can be found here.

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