Thy do some people in their sixties look, act and feel vigorous and energetic, while others need help just to get through the chores of daily living? A good part of the answer may lie in their hormones…
The “golden years” are a time when senior citizens are supposed to be enjoying summer tennis matches and cozy winters in Aspen. Unfortunately, this is not the reality for most retirees. As people live into their sixties and beyond, declining hormone levels may contribute significantly to chronic debilitating and costly illnesses which impede senior citizens ability to enjoy retirement.
Hormone replacement therapy for people over the age of fifty, may help turn back the clock and greatly enhance their quality of life by keeping them, stronger, leaner, and more active. In an effort to make this a reality, researchers are exploring the rejuvenating effects of several hormones that are known to undergo striking declines in the human body as it ages. These include, but also go beyond: HGH (human growth hormone), DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone), pregnenolone, testosterone, estrogen, progesterone, and melatonin. Of primary concern to medical researchers is how to maximize the benefits of hormone treatment and minimize risks; Dr. Edmund Chein, MD, founder of the Palm Springs Life Extension Institute, and Dr. L.. Cass Terry, MD. PhD, Chairman and Professor of Neurology at the Medical College of Wisconsin, may have developed a therapeutic regimen that accomplishes both.
This treatment is based on the work of the late Dr. Daniel Rudman and others at the Medical College of Wisconsin. Dr. Rudman’s research team gave growth hormone three times a week to twelve healthy men between the ages of 61 and 81 for six months. They found that the men gained muscle, lost fat and developed thick er skin, while a comparison group did not. Although Dr. Rudman’s schedule for growth hormone treatment provided significant benefits, patients in other research groups attempting to duplicate Dr. Rudman’s work. reported occasional side effects. Dr. Chein and Dr. Terry believe that those patients who experienced side effects did so because Dr. Rudman’s therapeutic technique did not simulate the body’s normal pattern of growth hormone release by the pituitary. They have developed a treatment technique that delivers the benefits of growth hormone replacement therapy without the side effects. Dr. Rudman was administering growth hormone at a low frequency (three times-a-week) and in high doses (5.5 IU, three times-a-week for a 70 kg male). “A higher frequency, lower dose hormonal augmentation therapy more closely mimics the way the pituitary gland naturally supplies the human body with growth hormone,” says Dr. Chein. “The 800 patients taking part in our study have obtained outstanding results with no side effects reported.”
George and Kathy Pickett are two of the patients taking part in Dr. Chein and Dr. Terry’s study. At the age of 65, George Pickett is energetic, tanned. fit. and looks like he has led a life of leisure. The notion that he suffered for years from chronic fatigue and a lackluster sense of well-being seems preposterous. “You should have seen me just a year ago,” says George Pickett, a retired sales executive in a Fortune 500 company, “I felt old, purposeless, and tired, even though I slept all the time. I didn’t even want to get out of bed.” Kathy Pickett, age 49, agrees with her husbands assessment of his health, “It’s true, George was weakening fast, he had lost all his muscle tone, and his zest for life was deteriorating along with his strength. I was also concerned about my condition.” says Kathy Pickett. “I just didn’t have as much energy as I used to.” As part of an on-going study, George and Kathy Pickett’s blood hormone levels were measured, as they started on a high frequency, low dose program to restore their bodies to more youthful levels of hormonal balance. They began to take growth hormone before sleeping and upon rising, six days-a-week (high frequency) in doses of 4 to 8 IU/week twice daily (low dose). In addition to the hormone replacement, the Picketts were encouraged to incorporate the therapy into a healthier life style. “Hormonal augmentation therapy can be a powerful tool to help older people begin a healthier lifestyle,” says Dr. Terry. “We encourage senior citizens to use the renewed energy levels they experience during the therapy to begin aerobic and resistance training. Senior citizens should also undergo dietary evaluation and practice mental fitness and stress reduction to achieve maximum benefits from the therapy and to deter the aging process.”
George and Kathy Pickett began to feel a difference almost immediately. “Day by day, went from not wanting to get out of bed in the morning to get out of Bed in the morning.” says George Pickett. “Now you wanting to can’t keep me down, can hardly wait to get up, shower, shave, and get to have the starting line. People always used to tell me to exercise, but didn’t have the energy to get up, let alone go to the gym, until my hormone levels were restored to healthier levels. Not only do the energy to exercise now. to the gym every day” Kathy Pickett I go to believes that the dramatic increase in energy both she and her husband experienced has fundamental says ly changed their attitude towards life. “My husband is himself again, we laugh all the time me now,” Kathy Pickett. “I have the energy to pursue my interests now. I am going back to school to finish my PhD!”
George and Kathy Pickett’s positive experiences while undergoing hormone replacement therapy are commonly reported by other patients in Dr. Chein and Dr. Terry’s study. In order to determine the effects of hormonal augmentation therapy. patients are asked to fill out self-assessment questionnaires at regular intervals. Many of these questionnaires come back with comments similar to the Pickett’s. Dr. Chein and Dr. Terry analyzed 308 randomly selected questionnaires from 202 patients who took part in the study between 1994 and 1996. The most commonly reported improvements were in muscle strength, exercise endurance, and loss of body fat. Also, there were significant improvements in healing capacity. energy level, emotions, altitude, memory, sexual drive and performance, as well as skin texture.
While several hormonal replacement regimens are included in Dr. Chein and Dr. Terry’s study, the major focus of their research is on human growth hormone (HGH); a product of the pituitary gland which gradually declines with age. Until recently HGH was not thought to be important for older people Doctors used to believe that it was mainly critical for childhood development, as it controlled the body’s transformation to its final stature. Few researchers thought that it had any great consequence afterward. But several recent studies have shown that they weren’t seeing the whole picture. While no one expects growth hormone to turn a frail 80-year-old into an iron man, the hormonal effects which are being studied now could help to save older people from some of the burdens of illness and help preserve their independence. The preliminary results of this study has promising implications-a loss of fat or increase in muscle, a lightening of or a burst of energy could add up to fewer falls and bro ken bones, and a decline in the depression which often accompanies aging.
The results of this medical research are going to be presented at the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine Convention. For more information about this study, you may contact either Dr. Edmund Chein, MD, at the Palm Springs Life Extension Institute, phone: (619) 327-8939; or Dr. L. Cass Terry, MD, PhD, at the Medical College of Wisconsin, phone: (414) 454-5204 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Several hormones that decline with age are being eliminate many studied to see if their replacement might help the body age more slowly, as well as of the diseases associated with aging thereby extend ing life expectancy…
HUMAN GROWTH HORMONE:
Where it comes from: The pituitary gland. When it declines: Begins to decline gradually after middle age.
What replacement can do: HGH (which increases Insulin Growth Factor I synthesis) improves: muscle mass, strength, endurance. cholesterol metabolism, and psychological well-being. Replacement can cause a dramatic shift in the body’s metabolism, resulting in reversal of osteoporosis, and a decrease in body fat. In addition, replacement accelerates healing in surgical patients, restores immunity in elderly people, and helps people get more deep sleep. It is the only hormone that causes improvement in skin texture, thereby eliminating wrinkles. It is also the only hormone able to reverse human biological age.
Where it comes from: Cortex of adrenal glands. above kidneys.
When it declines: Begins to decline gradually starting at age 30.
What replacement can do: Benefits the heart and immune function, improves sleep and mobility. increases memory, comprehension, and learning, and extends life expectancy. Replacement helps protect against arteriosclerosis, cancer, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, viral infections (such as HIV and Epstein-Barr), obesity, and osteoporosis.
Where it comes from Sex glands. When it declines: Gradually in men starting at 30, in women, at 50. What replacement can do: Improves muscle mass and strength, bone density, sense of well-being, sex drive, cognitive function and balance, and protects against auto-immune diseases (friendly mis fining problems caused by lymphocytes).
Where it comes from. The Pineal gland. When it declines: Sharply at adolescence, then again at about age 40. Elderly adults produce only half as much as children.
What replacement can do: Eliminates insomnia in older adults. Human cell studies suggest that it strengthens the immune system and fights cancer.
ESTROGEN AND PROGESTERONE
Where they come from. Ovaries before menopause in women.
When they decline: Begin to decline gradually in women, starting at age 40; sharply around age 50, leading to menopause.
What replacement can do. Helps protect against heart disease and osteoporosis, and rejuvenates the skin. Replacement can eliminate the symptoms of menopause (hot flashes, sleeplessness, obesity, and emotional changes such as depression).
By Kristin J. Lang PhD