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AMERICAN MORNING

House Call: HGH Internet Claims

Aired December 10, 2003 - 09:21   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: A slew of Internet ads pushing products containing human growth hormone. Apparently, though, buyer beware. A number of these products said to be bogus.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta is looking into it, back with us here, a bit more on this.

Good morning. Bogus, huh?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, big surprise, right?

HEMMER: Yes, shocker.

GUPTA: You see all these Internet pop-up ads popping up every time you turn on the Internet. You used to think you got a lot of e- mails from your friends and things like that, 30 new e-mails, but a lot of them were ads like the one that you see here sort of popping up every time you try and do a search on the Internet. So someone decided to actually put this to the test and find out if any of these things had any merit whatsoever. The organization called consumerlab.com, and that company found, they looked at all these pop- up ads, they looked at a lot of these Web sites, and what they found, again, the big surprise, was that most of these ads were bogus.

A little background, first of all, on growth hormone, first of all. Growth hormone is a naturally occurring substance in the body. A lot of people are starting to learn more about this. It's mainly produced in children and teenagers who need it the most, and the levels do decline with age.

Now there was a study done about 13 years ago, in 1990, which is where a lot of these people place their information on. They studied 12 men for six months and they found that human growth hormone actually increased muscle mass and decreased fat mass, very small study, very short term, not long enough to determine any of the side effects. The big question I always get, is how can these companies put this stuff on the Internet? Don't they have any liability in terms of what they are saying? they always quote this particular small and very old study.

HEMMER: What kind of drugs are being advertised?

GUPTA: There's all kind of different types of human growth hormone. And there's a tutorial on the human growth hormone, but let me give you some of the different types out there. There's something called releasers. These are some of the more common ones. They're actually composed of amino acids. They cause a temporary surge in human growth hormone levels. Another type as well called a nanogram strength product. You'll see the names on the Internet again. They actually claim to have high human growth hormone. They don't. Oftentimes, it's just about 1,000th of what is actually to be construed as effective.

Finally, let me just tell you about one more, the homeopathic ones. There are the ones that are getting some of the most play. They use diluted HGH, only a few molecules, in fact, of HGH. You usually need about 1,000 milligrams. This, obviously, is not going to do anything. Most scientists pretty skeptical. One other point let me just make is that human growth hormone gets digested in your stomach, so if you're taking it in a pill form, it almost assuredly won't work.

HEMMER: Quickly here, we're saying some are bogus -- do any of them work?

GUPTA: Well, there is an injectable form that can be given for real, therapeutic medical purposes. These probably don't work, the ones on the Internet. The does is too small. The flip side of it is that they're probably not unsafe. They probably aren't going to do anything at all for you. So doesn't work, won't hurt you.

HEMMER: Capital 'B' for bogus.

GUPTA: I think we put that to rest, I think.

HEMMER: Thank you, Sanjay.

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