Br J Sports Med 37:100-105 doi:10.1136/bjsm.37.2.100
  • Review

Claims for the anabolic effects of growth hormone: a case of the Emperor’s new clothes?

  1. M J Rennie
  1. Correspondence to:
 Professor Rennie, Division of Molecular Physiology, Faculty of Life Sciences, Old Medical School, University of Dundee, Dundee DD1 4HN, Scotland, UK; 
  • Accepted 2 December 2002


This review examines the evidence that growth hormone has metabolic effects in adult human beings. The conclusion is that growth hormone does indeed have powerful effects on fat and carbohydrate metabolism, and in particular promotes the metabolic use of adipose tissue triacylglycerol. However, there is no proof that net protein retention is promoted in adults, except possibly of connective tissue. The overexaggeration of the effects of growth hormone in muscle building is effectively promoting its abuse and thereby encouraging athletes and elderly men to expose themselves to increased risk of disease for little benefit.