Are All HGH Options Equal? Bio-Identical versus Synthetic HGH and IGF-1

HGH and CJC 1295

The use of HGH has become popular as a means by which folks in Hollywood get prepared for specific roles where a “shredded look” is needed. In conjunction with Testosterone and an Anabolic: Anavar – you have Hollywood’s Secret. The In home Chefs, Trainers help – but nothing in comparison to the medications themselves.

For this study, we will focus on Human Growth Hormone and what it gets converted to in the Liver (IGF-1) to create such positive effects on one’s body composition as well as one’s overall health.


HGH was finally synthesized in 1985 by Eli-Lilly under the brand name Humatrope. Prior to, body builders and athletes got HGH made from cadavers, which has a nasty side effect that resulted in a horrible death. The Synthesized product had no such complications and was readily introduced to combat AIDS wasting / HIV.

The body slows the production/feedback mechanism to utilize HGH when one stops growing (generally around the age of 18). By age 25, the pituitary really slows to a screeching halt – every year less HGH output and therefore the positive effects of IGF-1 are diminished, accelerating the aging process.

Synthetic HGH AVAILABLE TO athletes and movie stars is generally out of reach to the public – unless one wants to pay up to $3700 for a 12-week supply. The most popular brand name are Serostim, OmniTrope and Nutropin. At up to $3700 for off-label use, HGH is out of the reach for most.

In 1997, Semorelin Acetate was created as a growth-hormone releasing agent to stimulate the pituitary to produce HGH again – and along with various growth-hormone releasing peptides (GHRP2, GHRP6), allowed the body to maximize its own production (think when you were 16 and could eat whatever you wanted and not gain FAT), as an alternative to the super expensive synthetic HGH!

The Bio-Identical (natural route) takes longer to see results but is safer. Today, there are many more derivatives of the Bio-Identical version that can be customized by your AVN Physician to meet your specific needs and budget.

At the end of the day, both the synthetic and natural have a direct influence on creating insulin-like Growth Factor (IGF-1), which exhibits mostly positive results for anti-aging, fat loss, maintaining and/or building lean muscle – which is what most folks desire.

The Pros and Cons of IGF-1

IGF-1 is commonly known to help build muscle or something to avoid when dealing with cancer.  However, IGF-1 is also crucial in healing and tends to be low in those with chronic inflammation. There are some surprising things you didn’t know about IGF-1.

What is Insulin-Like Growth Factor 1?

Overall Health and Longevity

The Good

  • May be anti-aging
  • Increases antioxidants
  • Decreases inflammation and autoimmunity
  • Is good for the brain
  • Creates bigger muscles and reduces muscle wasting
  • Improves blood sugar balance
  • Protects against heart disease
  • Promotes growth/height
  • Helps bone density
  • Helps your gut
  • Might help clear bacterial infections
  • Boosts the immune system
  • 14) IGF-1 Helps With Electrolyte Balance
  • Is good for Skin

The Bad

  • May contribute to cancer development
  • Contributes to acne (like when you were a teenager)

IGF-1, Overall Health, and Longevity:

In several organisms such as fruit flies, worms, and rats, IGF-I is involved in the control of lifespan.

In most studies in mice, inhibiting Growth Hormone/IGF-I results in an increase in lifespan (up to 55%). However, in humans, the association between IGF-I levels and life expectancy doesn’t hold up [R].

Unlike lab animals, humans are exposed to various infections, stress, and other environmental factors that IGF-1 might help.

Several population-based studies describing a relationship between IGF-I and risk of dying were published with conflicting results. Two studies showed higher risk with higher IGF-I levels, while three showed higher risk with lower IGF-I levels. And in six studies there was no clear association at all [R].

Overall, however, having either low or high IGF-1 increases risk of dying from all causes [R].

The KEY (Like TESTOSTERONE) is to be on the high end of Normal – the Goldilocks scenario: Not to Low, Not too high – but just right!

In a meta-analysis of twelve studies done in 2011 with 14,906 participants, the risk of dying from all causes was increased in subjects with low as well as high IGF-1 levels [R].

People with low IGF-1 were at a 1.27X increased risk of dying from all causes, while those with higher levels were at a 1.18X increased risk.

I would say that when you look at all of the evidence, low IGF-1 levels are more likely to be a concern than high IGF-1 levels, but you still want to strike a balance [R].

The activity of IGF-I is influenced by at least six binding proteins (IGFBP). The most abundant is IGFBP-3, which binds more than 90% of IGF-1 in the circulation. Although IGF-I and IGFBP-3 are typically well correlated, there is speculative evidence that IGF-1 has an independent impact on disease risk, for example, on cancer [R].

When it comes to cancer, it’s probably better to err on having IGF-1 lower than higher (but not too low).

When it comes to autoimmunity or chronic inflammation, it’s probably better to err on having IGF-1 higher than lower (but not too high).

The Good

Source: [R].

1) IGF-1 May Be Anti-aging

The length of telomeres in the DNA have shown to be important predictors of longevity. IGF-1 has been shown to correlate with greater telomere length in healthy subjects of all ages [R] and in elderly men, in another study [R].

In the famous Framingham Heart Study of 525 people between the ages of 72 and 92, greater levels of IGF-1 were associated with decreased risk of dying in the next 2 years [R].

IGF-1 helps prevent age-related cognitive decline by promoting new cell growth in the brain (in rats) [R].

Aging [R], and its associated frailties, such as lowered muscle strength, slower walking, and less mobility are associated with lower levels of IGF-1 in older women [R].

Critically ill patients tended to have lower IGF-1 levels [R].

2) IGF-1 Increases Antioxidants

IGF-1 increases glutathione peroxidase, an important antioxidant enzyme [R].

It protects cells exposed to radiation, by preventing cell death and increasing the antioxidant status [R].

The negative to this is that if you have cancer and take chemotherapy, it may potentially protect cancer cells from dying as well.

3) IGF-1 Decreases Inflammation and Autoimmunity

When IGF-1 levels are low, inflammation tends to be high [R, R].

In mouse models of autoimmunity and brain inflammation, administration of IGF-1 delayed disease onset; however, giving IGF-1 after the disease had developed led to an enhanced worsening of the disease [R].

Allergic contact dermatitis, Multiple Sclerosis and type 1 diabetes is reduced in mice when they’re given IGF-1 [R].

Low IGF-1 levels have been documented in patients with HIV [R] and inflammatory bowel diseases.

Patients with chronic inflammatory diseases, such as Rheumatoid Arthritis and Lupus tend to have lower levels of circulating IGF-1 [R].

IGF-1 helps combat autoimmunity by increasing T Regulatory Cells.

IGF-1 also decreases MHCI gene expression [R].

In animals studies, high histamine levels in the body are associated with low IGF-1 in the blood (reduced via a histamine H1 receptor-mediated pathway) [R].

4) IGF-1 is good for the Brain

IGF-1 improves learning and memory in animal models [R].

It works as an anti-anxiety and anti-depressant in mouse studies [R].

Lower levels of IGF-1 are associated with depression in aged mice [R].

It speeds up mental processing in a study of 25 older men [R].

IGF-1 prevents the accumulation of amyloid plaque in the brain, in a rat model of Alzheimer’s disease [R].

In people, Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia are associated with lower IGF-1 levels [R], and IGF-1 resistance accompanies insulin resistance in the brain in Alzheimer’s Disease [R].

It increases BDNF in the brain, mimicking the effects of exercise [R].

It helps motor neuron diseases like ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) [R, R]. ALS is associated with lower IGF-1

5) IGF-1 Creates Bigger Muscles and Reduces Muscle Wasting

IGF-1 is important for building muscle [R], and for reducing muscle loss in aging and disease.

6) IGF-1 Improves Blood Sugar Balance

Lower IGF-1 is associated with metabolic syndrome [R].

IGF-1 infusions helped lower blood sugar, improve insulin sensitivity, and lower triglycerides in a study of Diabetes Type 2 patients [R].

People who are obese are more likely to have lower free IGF-1 [R].

In hepatitis C, people have lower IGF-1 and they are more likely to be insulin resistant, and it’s thought that these might be connected [R].

7) IGF-1 Protects against Heart Disease

IGF-1 has shown to have anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant effects on blood vessels, stabilizing existing plaque and reducing additional plaque accumulation [R].

Cardiovascular disease (coronary artery disease, fatal ischemic heart disease, ischemic stroke, congestive heart failure, as well as slower recovery after a heart attack) is associated with reduced IGF-1.

Lower IGF-1 levels were associated with higher risk of stroke in a study of a Chinese population [R].

8) IGF-1 Promotes Growth/Height

Growth Hormone’s (GH) activity in the body is dependent on IGF-1. So, IGF-1 deficiency causes insensitivity to GH and its effects on growth and repair.

IGF-1 helps restore height in children with IGF-deficiency [R].

Poor growth of an infant in the womb can be due to lowered IGF-1 [R].

Laron Syndrome (a type of dwarfism) is associated with lower IGF-1 in children [R].

9) IGF-1 Helps Bone Density

Higher IGF-1 levels are associated with greater bone mineral density in older women.

We know that IGF-1 is a direct promoter of bone growth [R].

However, IGF-1’s muscle-building (anabolic) effect may also promote bone density, since increasing muscle mass, in turn, requires greater bone strength [R].

10) IGF-1 Helps Your Gut

In animal models of colitis, burns and jaundice, treatment with IGF-1 improved gut health. It stimulated mucosal DNA and protein content and drastically reduced the incidence of bacterial translocation [R, R, R].

In animal models of small bowel transplantation, IGF-I improved the mucosal structure and absorptive function and reduced bacterial translocation [R].

Infants with gut permeability showed faster healing times when given IGF-1 [R].

11) IGF-1 Might Help Clear Bacterial Infections

In animal models, IGF-1 helps clear bacterial infections and improves survival in sepsis [R].

In animal models of cystic fibrosis, IGF-1 was able to help clear bacteria from the lungs [R].

12) IGF-1 Boosts the Immune System

IGF-1 can help increase natural killer cell activity [R].

IGF-I drives B-cells to multiply [R].

13) IGF-1 Helps With Electrolyte Balance

IGF-1 has been shown to help restore fluid balance in the elderly rats [R, R] and in humans [R].

14) IGF-1 is good for Skin

Reviving stagnant collagen synthesis can help protect skin against aging [R].

Insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) is the most potent stimulator of collagen biosynthesis and may help prevent skin aging [R].


IGF-1 and growth hormone inhibit urea synthesis [R], which may cause lower blood urea nitrogen.  Growth Hormone-deficient children given human growth hormone results in lower urea nitrogen and this is due to decreased urea synthesis [R].

Advanced liver cirrhosis correlates with low IGF-1, in adults [R].

The Bad

Because IGF-1 stimulates growth, it can have negative effects on someone who is prone to cancer.

IGF-1 exerts powerful effects on each of the key stages of cancer development.

It increases cellular proliferation, angiogenesis, and metastasis and reduces cell death (apoptosis). It also can lead to resistance to chemotherapeutic agents.

When it comes to cancer, not only is IGF-1 important but so is IGF-1 binding protein (IGFBP), which blocks the effects of IGF-1.

So it’s the ‘free’ levels of IGF-1 that are most important.

1) IGF-1 May Contribute to Cancer Development

IGF-1 creates an environment conducive to breast cancer and resists anti-cancer drugs [R].

IGF-1 was shown to increase invasiveness of breast cancer [R].

A review of 17 studies found that IGF-1 is positively associated with breast cancer risk, taking levels of IGF binding protein (IGFBP3) into account, due to its effects on estrogen-sensitive tumors [R].

High IGF-1 is associated with an increased risk for prostate cancer [R].

Blood IGF-1 levels are higher in those with lung cancer than controls [R] (or maybe not [R])

Higher IGF-1 levels in the blood are associated with colorectal cancer [R].

However, another study found that both low and high IGF-1 increased the chance of dying from cancer [R].

NOTE: Studies are unclear. Some take into account IGF-binding protein 3, and some do not. IGF-binding protein 3 (IGFBP3) is supposed to keep IGF-1 levels in the body in balance. When IGF binding protein (IGFBP) levels are low, free IGF-1 is unchecked and can cause growth that is out of control. That’s where cancer may come in. In most cases, elevated IGF-1 is associated with a reduced cancer risk more than an elevated risk [R].

2) IGF-1 Contributes to Acne

Increased IGF-1 may influence acne in adult men and women. While IGF-1 appears to have a stronger effect on acne in women, testosterone/androgens may play a greater role in acne for men [R].

Ways to Increase IGF-1

If you have low IGF-1 levels, you might want to focus a bit more on things that increase IGF-1, especially if you’re genetically predisposed to autoimmunity.

  • Caloric intake
  • Dietary Protein [R]
  • Fat [R] – also, higher saturated fat was associated with lower IGFBP3.
  • Red meat (association) [R]
  • Dairy or Calcium [R].
  • Increased intake of Casein (found in milk) [R].
  • Vitamin C  [R] – there’s a correlation between dietary vitamin C intake and IGF-1
  • Increased intake of Blueberries [R].
  • Growth Hormone[R, R]
  • Estradiol[R]
  • Cortisol[R]
  • DHEA[R]
  • Parathyroid Hormone[R]
  • Prolactin[R]
  • Resveratrol– increases IGF-1 in the memory center (hippocampus) of the brain [R]
  • Cinnamon(skin) [R, R]
  • Leucine[R]
  • HMB[R]
  • Zinc[R, R, R] – In humans, low zinc is associated with low IGF-1, even in the presence of adequate caloric intake.  Some studies suggest that zinc potentiates the action of IGF-1 [R].
  • Magnesium[R]– magnesium levels were strongly and independently associated with IGF-1 levels [R].
  • Selenium[R, R].
  • Astragalus[R].
  • Eleuthero[R].
  • Ursolic acid(muscle) [R]
  • Carnitine(muscle) [R]
  • Velvet Antler [R,R]
  • Soy isoflavones [R]
  • Dried Plum [R]

Ways to Inhibit IGF-1

If you have high IGF-1 levels, you might want to focus a bit more on things that inhibit IGF-1, especially if you’re genetically predisposed to cancer.

  • Fasting[R], especially prolonged fasting [R].
  • Carbs – A Higher dietary proportion of carbohydrates is associated with lower IGF-1 [R].
  • Protein restriction [R].
  • Calorie restriction[R].
  • Intense walking [R].
  • Legumes [R]
  • Royal jelly[R]
  • Glucosamine[R]
  • Bilberry [R]
  • Luteolin[R]
  • Curcumin[R]
  • Resveratrol(Grapes -especially the skin, mulberries, peanuts) [R]. Inhibits IGF-1 in intestinal cells, reducing collagen formation that might otherwise lead to scarring and narrowing of the intestinal passageway. (Resveratrol increases IGF-1 in the brain –see below).
  • Apigenin[R, R] –in a study of human prostate cancer.
  • Lycopene(Tomatoes, guava, rosehip, watermelon, papaya, apricot, pink grapefruit) [R].
  • EGCG(Green tea) [R]
  • Boron(fruits & vegetables, raisins, nuts, legumes) – reduces free IGF  [R].
  • Genistein (Soybeans and soy products, red clover, and Sicilian pistachio) [R].
  • Inflammation: Histamine[R], TNF-a [R], IL-6 [R], IL-1-alpha [R]….the negative effect of IL-6 on muscle function may be caused by lower IGF-1 [R].
  • Tamoxifen [R].
  • Genetic Influences/IGF-1 SNPs

IGF-1 Ranges and Diseases:

Breast cancer:

Studies showed an IGF-1 range of 170-190 in women aged 45-60 with breast cancer [R].

In another study, premenopausal women with IGF-1 levels over 207 were at an increased risk of breast cancer [R].

Prostate cancer:

Studies showed an IGF-1 range of 160-170 for men with prostate cancer around age 60 [R].

In another study of men with prostate cancer averaging at age 65, IGF-1 levels were around 150-170 [R].

In the Physicians’ Health Study, an IGF-1 over 185 raised the risk for prostate cancer [R].

Cardiovascular Disease and Cancer:

Higher IGF-1 (approximately 190) is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular events and deaths from cancer in elderly men (average age 75) [R].

Higher Overall Risk of Disease or Mortality:

IGF-1 levels are about 70-80 or lower are associated with an overall increased risk of disease or death [R].

Born and raised in Chicago Illinois, Chris has always been a competitive athlete, and fitness and health expert. He Founded AVN, an All-Star team of the best doctors, nutritionists, dieticians, personal trainers and life coaches, offering health, anti-aging, weight loss and erectile dysfunction services.

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