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Hormones May Hold Clues to Healthy Aging

Posted: June 22, 2006

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The second study dealt with improving physical functioning in older adults by increasing the body's production of growth hormone.

Aging results in a lower level of growth hormone that, in turn, brings on steady declines in muscle mass, strength and exercise capacity. This can lead to a level of frailty that brings an end to independent living.

Lead researcher Dr. George R. Merriam, of the University of Washington/VA Puget Sound Health Care System, said his team sought to determine if hormonal and functional declines were related, and if boosting growth hormone levels might help halt or reverse that decline.

In their study, Merriam and his colleagues studied the effect of the growth-hormone stimulator capromorelin on 395 men and women 65 to 84 years old. Capromorelin is an investigational medication developed by the Pfizer drug company.

All of the participants had some mild limitation in their physical functioning. During the year of the trial, some patients received capromorelin, while others were given a placebo.