Growth hormone has a huge impact on your immune system.
Your Immune System – Why does an infection that would only cause an eighteen-year-old a feverish, uncomfortable evening kill a seventy-year old? Growth hormones appear to be a major player.
The world is a dangerous place filled with bacterial leopards, tigers and viral dragons out to get you. There are shark like parasites that long to feast on your juicy interior and hungry yeasts that would like nothing better than to grow at your expense.
So to live is to literally live in peril.
These dangerous microbial wanderers assault you daily. Yet so fantastically powerful is your immune system, that most days you feel quite healthy and aren’t even aware of the battles being fought on your behalf by your lymphocytes and phagocytes and killer cells.
Even starting at puberty our immune system begins to wane and somewhere around the age of forty, the human immune system starts to takes a nosedive, and far too many of us go down with it.
Growth hormone’s changes aren’t only the ones found rippling just beneath the surface of the suddenly tighter and tauter skin. There’s something more profound than that.
Researchers now have every reason to think HGH supplementation will radicallyupgrade the quality of the aging immune system!
Now it’s possible you don’t find the immune system very exciting. You may take it for granted, just an old, dull part of your body that does its job when you catch that winter cold. However, the truth is that it’s the premier instrument of your survival. You wouldn’t last long without a skin to cover the outside of you, and you wouldn’t live a whole lot longer without an immune system to protect the inside of you.
It guards our physical integrity.
For now, it’s sufficient that we accept its supreme importance and realize that it’s a scientific fact that immune response declines with advancing age. And the older we get, the decline is likely to be quite profound.
This immunological falling-off is a major contributing cause of the increase in cancers, in autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, and, of course, in simple viral and bacterial infections-everything from the common cold to full-blown pneumonia.
As we age, the immune system has a difficult time dealing with even the simplest biological hazards of life. At some point in time, people who are fortunate enough to live that long arrive at an immunological crisis point: they’re simply waiting for the first haphazard puff of infection or growth of malignancy to lay them low. How does one go from the incredibly hearty immune system of the adolescent to the frail and crumbling defense network of the senior citizen?
In many scientist’s opinion, the first, and eventually most significant negative change begins as early as puberty. Our thymus gland, the source of the T-cell lymphocytes (a form of white blood cell) that lead the immune-system charge when infection and unwanted intrusions of any kind take place, begins to shrink. Important thymic cells are replaced by fat tissue, leading to decreased thymic hormone secretion. By old age, the thymus has nearly disappeared and so has our immune system.
Naturally immunologists have wondered whether this shrinkage of the thymus is controlled by a biological clock or is the result of age-associated imbalances in the endocrine system.
It has been noticed that thymic shrinkage and growth hormone decline begin more or less simultaneously in adolescence. Of course, this could be coincidental. But research in the 1960s showed that the injection of middle-aged animals with pituitary extracts could augment thymic size.
That was definitely suggestive.
Over the last several years, research has moved beyond coincidence or mere suggestion. It has been demonstrated experimentally that mice, rats, and dogs, all of whom suffer thymic shrinkage with age and consequent immune decline in a manner very similar to humans, are all capable of regenerating their thymus glands.
HGH is the key hormone that does it.
We already have evidence that growth hormone does stimulate one kind of immunity in people. A study was conducted at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine on older women with low levels of human growth hormone.1 The researchers were intrigued by the correlation of two facts.
First, that in both animals and humans a deficiency in growth hormone is associated with an impairment in natural killer (NK) cell activity.
Second, that a decrease in NK activity occurs naturally with aging. NK cells have somewhat different targets from the T?cells that are produced by the thymus. The T-cells are preprogrammed to respond to specific antigens, and the victims of their assault are most often invading viruses and bacteria.
Natural killer cells choose cancer cells as their primary targets, especially blood-borne metastatic cancer cells in the process of spreading.
Until scientists worked out the function of NK cells, they had often assumed that the body has little natural defense against cancer. If we didn’t all die of it relatively quickly, that had to be because malignancies were rather rare malfunctions of the body.
Nowadays, we realize that cancer cells are anything but rare. The billions of cells in the human body with their trillions of daily interactions inevitably produce rogue cells all the time. If we can go for many decades and the majority of us for a lifetime?without contracting cancer, that’s because our bodies are programmed to promptly and decisively destroy these renegades.
Recent research indicates that NK cells are designed to sense any cell that is dividing at an abnormally rapid rate which is the exact characteristic of a cancer. NK cells go directly to such a site of abnormality; attach themselves to the suspect cell; and, acting as judge, jury, and executioner all in one, give it such a walloping dose of chemical toxicity that the offending malignant cell promptly croaks.
Immunologists now believe that without these superb and necessary assassins, we would very quickly become statistics on the national cancer charts. Which is exactly what happens to a large percentage of AIDS patients as their natural killer cell counts go down.
The researchers in New Mexico were aware that growth hormone declines naturally with age as does NK activity. Taking twelve older women in otherwise good health but with low HGH levels, they gave growth hormone to six for fourteen days while leaving the other six untreated.
At the end of the experiment, the growth-hormone-treated women had increased their level of natural- killer-cell activity by 20 percent.
1. Crist, D. M., et al. “Exogenous growth hormone treatment alters body composition and increases natural killer cell activity in women with impaired endogenous growth hormone secretion,” Metabolism, 1987; 36 (12): 1115-1117.