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HGH and Diabetes

Written by Author - Authors Medical experts of the National HRT Clinic - August 2, 2019

HGH and Diabetes
The adult body faces many changes as the years’ pass, and it often seems as though the older one gets, the more the body breaks down. Diabetes, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and many other conditions may have more to do with the imbalance of hormone levels rather than the passing of time. In this report, we focus on one such connection – HGH and diabetes. There are three different types of diabetes to discuss: type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes. We will look at whether human growth hormone plays a role in any of these types of diabetes, and if so, what that role is and how to influence it positively.

Growth hormone goes by many names: GH, somatotropin, HGH, human growth hormone, and somatropin. You will find these names and abbreviations used interchangeably. Typically, we refer to somatotropin, the chemical secreted by the pituitary gland as growth hormone. Somatropin is the biologically identical human growth hormone manufactured by pharmaceutical companies. The body recognizes HGH as growth hormone, making it an easy and safe form of hormone replacement therapy. Since somatotropin, the hormone has a direct and indirect influence on blood glucose and insulin, somatropin the replacement hormone (HGH) will have the same impact. For our purposes in this report, we use the abbreviation HGH to signify growth hormone in all forms.

The relationship between HGH and the body’s blood sugar metabolization is complex. Also involved is another hormone – insulin growth factor 1. Although IGF-1 (abbreviation) may sound similar to insulin, they are very different in many ways even though they can act on many of the same cells.

IGF-1 is a hormone that the liver secretes after it receives a supply of HGH. The hypothalamus measures IGF-1 levels in the bloodstream and determines if more HGH is necessary. If so, it sends hormone signals to the pituitary gland to produce somatotropin, which then increases IGF-1 production in the liver. Elevated IGF-1 levels lower HGH production, which in turn decreases insulin growth factor 1. As IGF-1 levels decline, the pituitary gland increases HGH secretion.

We talk about HGH for diabetes because growth hormone and IGF-1 influence cellular insulin sensitivity for the uptake of glucose from the bloodstream. If anything blocks the cells’ ability to take in the circulating glucose, then blood sugar levels increase, which can cause diabetes.

HGH and IGF-1 can influence cellular insulin sensitivity for the uptake of glucose from the bloodstream.

What Is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a medical condition that occurs when blood sugar (glucose) levels get too high. Glucose is the body’s primary energy source, derived from the food a person eats. After eating, the body’s digestive enzymes begin to process and breakdown the food so that the small intestine can absorb the nutrients into the bloodstream. The pancreas secretes insulin to tell the cells to take in the glucose for energy. Problems can occur along the pathway that can lead to diabetes. The cells may become resistant to the effects of insulin, or the pancreas can secrete too little insulin to carry out the function.

There are three types of diabetes that we will explain in the next section:

  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Gestational diabetes

When we look at HGH and diabetes, we have to understand the impact that too much or too little can have on insulin and blood glucose levels. Too much HGH can cause elevated IGF-1 levels to decrease insulin effects on the cells, resulting in high blood glucose and insulin levels. That is why people who abuse HGH are at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

That leads us to the answer the question can HGH cause diabetes. Yes, in cases of abuse or overuse of human growth hormone therapy, type 2 diabetes can occur. Luckily, in this scenario, when HGH abuse ceases blood sugar levels typically return to normal.

Diabetes occurs when blood sugar (glucose) levels get too high.

Different Types of Diabetes

When the cells cannot take in the circulating glucose in the bloodstream, the body loses its primary source of energy. Elevated glucose in the blood can lead to potentially serious health issues, including diabetes. As we continue our exploration of HGH and diabetes, we must first understand the differences between these medical conditions:

  • Type 1 diabetesOften diagnosed during childhood or in young adults, type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas does not make enough insulin. The cause of this is usually an attack from the immune system that destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. For that reason, people with type 1 diabetes must administer insulin each day to help the cells take in the circulating blood glucose.
  • Types 2 diabetesAlthough type 2 diabetes can develop at any age, it is more often associated with middle-age and older adults. Type 2 diabetes can occur when the body does not make or use insulin properly. In some cases, when the cells become resistant to insulin effects, the pancreas can keep secreting more insulin to deal with the rising levels of blood glucose. That can cause elevated insulin along with blood sugar levels.
  • Gestational diabetesSome pregnant women develop gestational diabetes when the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin, which typically goes away after childbirth. Gestational diabetes also increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes in later years. Because placental growth hormone (PGH) tends to replace much of the pituitary growth hormone during pregnancy, growth hormone deficiency before pregnancy can lead to unforeseen influences. Gaining too much weight during pregnancy increases the risk of gestational diabetes – a situation that worsens when a woman is overweight at the time of conception.

Diabetes is a result of having too much glucose in the bloodstream that the cells cannot take in for energy.

How Common Is Diabetes?

Many people walk around each day with no knowledge that they have type 2 diabetes or prediabetes. In 2015, 9.4 percent of the people in the US had diabetes – roughly 30.3 million people. More than 25 percent of them do not know they have diabetes. Type 2 diabetes accounts for more than 90 percent of adult diabetes.

Is there a connection between HGH and diabetes that would account for an increased risk in developing type 2 diabetes?

Because being overweight increases diabetes risk factors and HGH helps regulate metabolism, low growth hormone levels can lead to weight gain.

How does diabetes affect the body, and can it lead to other health issues?

Adults with diabetes may suffer from bladder and urinary problems as well as sexual decline. Some medications used to treat diabetes can cause blood glucose levels to get too low, resulting in hypoglycemia. Diabetes requires careful blood sugar regulation to reduce the risks of further development of these health issues:

  • Dental disease
  • Eye problems – diabetic retinopathy
  • Foot problems
  • Heart disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Nerve damage
  • Stroke

In some form, diabetes affects close to 10 percent of the US population.

HGH and IGF-1 Influence on Blood Sugar and Insulin

The regulation of HGH, IGF-1, insulin, and blood glucose levels is vital to ensure a healthy body and adequate energy. The peripheral tissues require glucose to provide the energy that fuels the body’s functions. Insulin regulates glucose balance, making the cells sensitive so they can take in the circulating glucose. Certain hormones, such as HGH, IGF-1, and epinephrine are counterregulatory against insulin actions.

  • HGHAs we look at HGH and diabetes, we know that when insulin is working properly, the cells take in the circulating blood glucose and blood sugar levels decline. If levels decline too low, a person can develop hypoglycemia. Counterregulatory hormones like HGH prevent hypoglycemia by decreasing cellular glucose uptake and increasing gluconeogenesis (synthesis of glucose from non-sugar sources) and glycogenolysis (breakdown of stored glycogen to glucose) from the kidney and liver.Excess human growth hormone is associated with a condition called acromegaly which can increase the risk of developing diabetes. Individuals with acromegaly typically exhibit increased gluconeogenesis activity in the kidney and liver resulting in too much glucose entering the bloodstream.
  • IGF-1As HGH levels climb, so does insulin growth factor 1, which can lead to further problems because IGF-1 and insulin receptors are homologous in biological function and structure. Because IGF-1 can bind to and activate (weakly) insulin receptors, stimulating glucose uptake and gluconeogenesis, resulting in hypoglycemia. IGF-1 helps to increase anabolic muscle growth and fat metabolism. To accomplish these functions, IGF-1 diverts sugar stores to the muscles, especially after exercise. That process decreases insulins ability to have the peripheral tissue cells take in the sugar that IGF-1 is utilizing.

How can HGH or IGF-1 help diabetes regulation?

HGH can improve the cells’ sensitivity to insulin’s effects, improving glucose uptake, and removing excess sugar from the bloodstream. IGF-1 has anti-inflammatory actions that can protect tissues from pro-inflammatory mediators in cases of obesity, which is a contributor to diabetes. A benefit of IGF-1 is that it can exert both growth hormone-like actions as well as insulin-like actions in the body. Through the negative feedback loop of IGF-1 reducing growth hormone levels, insulin actions increase to support glucose uptake in the cells. As GH levels decline, IGF-1 also decreases, resulting in more growth hormone release, which increases IGF-1 production and reduces insulin levels. Because low IGF-1 levels are also associated with decreased insulin sensitivity and glucose intolerance, improving HGH subsequently increases IGF-1 to help regulate blood sugar levels.

HGH and IGF-1 exert a considerable influence on insulin sensitivity and cellular glucose uptake.

HGH and Diabetes Type 1

When the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, the body’s cells become desensitized to the glucose in the bloodstream. Since the cells cannot take in that glucose, an increase in blood sugar levels occurs. To compensate, a person will need supplementary insulin to promote glucose uptake by the cells. The condition that occurs when the pancreas cannot provide enough insulin is Type 1 diabetes. Although the connection between HGH and diabetes type 1 is not as strong as it is with diabetes type 2, there is still a relationship.

For adults with both low levels of HGH and diabetes type 1, hypoglycemic attacks, insulin sensitivity, and lack of energy are often problems. In one study of adults with growth hormone deficiency and type 1 diabetes, HGH therapy increased IGF-1 concentrations significantly. There was a decrease in body fat mass and an increase in lean body mass. The frequency and severity of hypoglycemic attacks declined, quality of life improved, but a 1.75-fold increase in insulin dosage each day was necessary.

Adults with HGH deficiency and type 1 diabetes may suffer from insulin sensitivity, lack of energy, and hypoglycemic attacks.

HGH and Diabetes Type 2

Diabetes type 2 often occurs later in life, with the risk factor increasing with age – and weight gain. Obesity is a relatively common issue for people with type 2 diabetes. In this situation, the problem does not lie with the pancreas producing too little insulin as with type 1 diabetes. Instead, the cells become resistant to the effects of insulin. As a result, blood glucose levels remain elevated. Sensing that, the pancreas continues to secrete insulin into the bloodstream, resulting in excess of both insulin and glucose. Eventually, the pancreas becomes worn out from over-production of insulin and cannot keep up with the body’s demands. Excess glucose then goes to the liver for storage as glycogen, which will be utilized when the body’s cells need energy. Glycogen buildup in the liver caused fatty acids and fat deposits that accumulate in the liver resulting in fatty liver disease.

Adults with low levels of HGH and diabetes type 2 are more likely to store excess body fat. They feel tired all the time, often needing to turn to food for more energy. Unfortunately, that only increases the fat storage further.

Weight gain and obesity are concerns for adults with growth hormone deficiency. Not only does excess fat put a strain on the heart, joints, and organs, but it increases the risk of insulin resistance and high blood glucose levels. For people with low levels of HGH and diabetes, human growth hormone therapy can help. In one study of 24 obese adults with type 2 diabetes, 16 of the participants received HGH therapy for 12 weeks while undergoing a program of exercise and diet restriction. The other group participated in the same program without the use of HGH treatment.

While both groups had lower fasting glucose levels, only the adults receiving HGH therapy had decreases in the following parameters:

  • Fibrinogen
  • Free fatty acids
  • Insulin levels
  • Plasminogen activator inhibitor-1
  • Total cholesterol
  • Triglycerides

Insulin sensitivity also increased for those individuals treated with HGH therapy, making the cells more receptive to insulin signals to take in the circulating blood glucose.

Adults with HGH deficiency and type 2 diabetes tend to gain weight, which further increases diabetes effects.

HGH Deficiency and Diabetes Risk

According to a 2012 study, for adults with a deficiency in the levels of HGH, diabetes type 2 development increases in risk. The increased fat storage and obesity often seen with HGH deficiency significantly boost the possibility of type 2 diabetes.

HGH deficiency often leads to adverse changes in blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels, all markers of metabolic syndrome – a condition typically associated with type 2 diabetes. Factors such as a sedentary lifestyle, lack of exercise, not getting enough sleep, and poor dietary choices increase the risks of both low HGH and diabetes.

Growth hormone deficiency significantly increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

How to Use HGH to Improve Diabetes Symptoms

All adults, male or female, are at risk of developing growth hormone deficiency as they age. Poor lifestyle habits can further that risk. Because HGH deficiency can cause so many unwanted symptoms and lead to other health issues, restoring balance to growth hormone levels is essential. The use of HGH for men with diabetes is extremely safe, just as it is for women when prescribed by a doctor specializing in hormone replacement therapy. It is essential to work with a hormone specialist if HGH deficiency and diabetes are concerns.

When looking at potential HGH benefits, diabetes type 2 adults may find that they can lower their insulin dosages – of course, only under doctor supervision. Part of this is due to HGH therapy assisting with lipolysis and the loss of excess body fat mass. Losing weight is one of the best ways to get type 2 diabetes under control.

Another benefit of HGH therapy is increased energy – which often leads a person to improve their level of physical activity. Exercise is another excellent way of improving the symptoms of diabetes while also stimulating further fat loss.

For more information about HGH and diabetes, please contact National HRT for a confidential consultation at no charge.

Medically reviewed by   Reviewers National HRT Staff - Updated on November 21, 2023

Please note that the information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.