Neuroendocrine Theory of Aging
In the last decade there has been a lot of interest in the role of hormones and aging
The neuroendocrine theory suggests that it is the decline of the nervous and endocrine systems and lessening of their ability to regulate and integrate the body’s key activities could be one of the factors that may contribute to aging.
Decreased hormone levels result in a body wide imbalance that decreases the immune system, strength, metabolism and sexual functions.
Key hormones such as thyroxine, oestriol, testosterone, growth hormone, IGF-1, melatonin, Dhea decrease as we age and replacement with physiological doses of bio-identical hormones may delay the effects of aging and help someone age better.
In the 2nd Malaysian conference on Healthy Aging at Berjaya Times Square Dr. Ronald Tan, the President of the Healthy Aging Society of Hong Kong gave the keynote address on “The role of Growth Hormones in Aging”. The data presented which included some of the latest research in the world and also his personal experience showed that there was a role in HGH replacement in aging.
In this article we will discuss the role of HGH and ageing.
What Is HGH?
HGH is said to be the mother of all hormones. It is a simple protein hormone released by the pituitary gland. It enters our bloodstream in bursts during sleep. It travels to the liver, where it is converted into a substance called insulin growth factor 1 (IGF1). IGF1 is the messenger molecule that travels to all parts of the body stimulating cell production and growth.
It is HGH that is responsible for telling our bodies to grow cells, bones, organs and muscles.
HGH is in plentiful supply until about age 20. Each decade from than on we lose approximately 20% of our HGH base level.
So by the time you are 60 or 70, your body has access to only 15-20% of the HGH you had in your youth.
HGH promotes growth by helping transport amino acids (the building blocks of protein) between cells and into cells. Amino acids are used by the body to create muscles and to build and restore organs, including the heart and skin.
Gerontologists now believe that low levels of HGH may be one of the contributors to ageing, because this hormone is primarily responsible for growth and regeneration of every cell in our bodies.
Everyday regardless of our age, millions of cells die and millions of new cells are produced. When we are young and growing, the high levels of HGH cause our bodies to produce more new cells than those that die off. Our bodies expand in size and look young and fit.
As we get older, less HGH is produced (much of this decline can be attributed to our lifestyles), reversing the balance of new to old- more cells are dying than are been produced in every muscle, organ and part of our bodies. It is no wonder our body begins to break down. This is why we become less functional and begin to age.
Indeed, some healthy aging doctors believe that correct HGH levels are the secret to maintaining youth.
Correct and specifically tailored exercise, diet, meditation and nutritional supplements will all naturally increase HGH and prolong youth. But from around 50-60 years, even those treatments are not enough.
It is the firm belief of these physicians that to stay young many older people should supplement these treatments by taking HGH directly.
More than 50 years of research and 28,000 different studies on HGH have been done.
The first controlled, random, double-blind clinical study in this area was undertaken by Dr. Daniel Rudman at the medical college of Wisconsin and was published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1990.
Dr. Rudman wrote: ‘The effects of six months of human growth hormone on lean body mass and adipose tissue mass were equivalent in magnitude to the changes incurred during 10-20 years of ageing’.
Dr Victor Goh of National University of Singapore had the same results in Chinese males in Singapore.
As decrease in lean body mass and muscle bulk is one of the causes of immobility and falls in the elderly HGH supplementation may improve the quality of life of elderly patients. Infact Dr. Rudman did not believe that HGH therapy will make people live longer, but that it will improve the quality of their life- stronger bones and muscles will improve mobility and independence and mean fewer falls and broken bones.
Who Should Take HGH
HGH supplementation, just like replacement therapy of other hormones must be done by doctors knowledgeable in this field of medicine.
The FDA in America has approved HGH use in adult growth hormone deficiency syndrome and the use of HGH in deficient adults was approved in Malaysia two years ago.
Those doctors involved in this field agree that using physiological doses of bio-identical hormones and closely monitored for the individual person has very few side-effects and together with modifying their lifestyle and following a good nutrition and exercise programme will improve the overall quality of their life.
Whether the person needs injectable HGH or secratogogues will depend on his initial HGH levels.
The only caution is unlike vitamin supplementation which need not be closely monitored, hormone supplementation in higher than normal doses and if non bio-identical hormones are used can lead to various side effects which can be serious. Therefore any hormone intake whether it is thyroxine, insulin, testosterone or HGH must be in consultation with a trained doctor knowledgeable in this subject.