I’m in the middle of a great conversation with my brother-in-law (a scientist) about steroids, PEDs, and the effects they have on baseball players. I think this may become a blog post (summer project!), but in the meantime, here’s this.
It’s About the Money, Stupid covered the subject of Human Growth Hormone: what it is, what “synthetic” HGH does to a human body, and why most tests on it are impotent (pun intended). Although Larry really didn’t treat his questioner nicely.
Q: Why would an adult athlete want to take HGH?
A: Depending on who you believe, HGH may make adults bigger and stronger.
Q: You mean, HGH works like steroids?
A: Well, it’s not exactly clear. Some sources report that HGH works like anabolic steroids and testosterone to help build muscle. However, there’s no proof that HGH actually increases athletic performance.
Q: That doesn’t make sense. HGH MUST enhance athletic performance if it helps make you bigger.
A: That’s the strange thing. The studies seem to indicate that HGH might promote muscle gain, but HGH doesn’t seem to make you any stronger.
One thing in this argument with my brother-in-law is that there’s a common minsconception that steroids are the same as HGH and testosterone–at least in the public eye. The three are completely different from one another. We’re not even talking about what BALCO did yet.
Q: re: exogenous (created externally) and endogenous (created internally) HGH, if there’s no difference between the two, how can you devise a test to catch the athletes doping with HGH?
A: Well, like I said, a molecule of HGH is a molecule of HGH, no matter whether it’s exogenous or endogenous. But there might be a statistical difference between a population of exogenous HGH molecules and a population of endogenous HGH molecules.
Q: You’ve lost me.
A: Let’s say I have a bunch of yellow M&Ms in my pocket. Without your knowing it, I take my yellow M&Ms and put them into your bag of M&Ms. My yellow M&Ms are exogenous, because they come from outside of your bag. How can you tell that you have exogenous M&Ms in your bag? Well, you can’t tell by testing any single M&M – they’re all genuine M&Ms. But if you empty the entire bag and count the number of M&Ms of each color, you’ll notice that there are too many yellow M&Ms. The M&M candy people wouldn’t put so many yellow M&Ms in the same bag. There has to be some other explanation.