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Australia's leading hormone scientists has warned that widespread assumption of the efficacy of peptides in enhancing sporting performance could lead to increased, unregulated use amongst young sportspeople.
At their annual meeting in Sydney, council members of The Endocrine Society of Australia (ESA) raised concern that recent high profile cases of alleged use of banned substances in sport has created the assumption that these substances are proven to boost performance, when in fact there is little to no scientific evidence proving their effectiveness.
The ESA, the peak professional organisation representing specialist physicians and scientists involved in the study and treatment of hormone disorders, said the use of peptides in sport is based entirely on dubious, anecdotal evidence as most have not been clinically tested for use in sport.
Professor Peter Ebeling, President of the Endocrine Society of Australia said the message needed to be communicated that there was no scientific proof of efficacy.
"It is the ESA's view that proposed benefits of these agents in sports are assumed and not based on rigorous scientific or medical data," "More importantly, their use is currently considered unethical and potentially unsafe," Professor Ebeling said.
"A prime example is the so called obesity drug AOD-9604 - which six clinical trials in 2007 showed it failed to treat obesity and has no clinical data on efficacy in sports people."
"The high profile cases of peptides use in professional sport have created the impression that these are effective enhancers of performance that are just banned by sporting regulators," he said.
"We are at risk of encouraging Aussie teens participating in competitive sport to dabble in these, unproven, unregulated peptides, because there is the mainstream assumption that professional athletes are using them because they work and can go largely undetected."
"Scientific evidence as to the efficacy of prescribed hormones to enhance sports performance is not available for peptides such as insulin," Professor Ebeling said.
The use of peptides in professional sport is often reported to have stemmed from the bodybuilding community as an undetectable replacement for anabolic steroids. Many peptides are not only unproven for sporting performance, but aren't even cleared by the Therapeutic Goods Association (TGA) for human use.
Professor Ken Ho, leading Australian endocrinologist echoed concerns and provided advice for young sportspeople presented with a new product or supplement.
"Four questions need to be asked by anyone considering using a new product; is it safe, has it been proven to be effective and is it legal?"
"Lastly, is the person prescribing and administering the product a qualified medical practitioner? Sports scientists, supplement store workers or personal trainers are not medical practitioners and are therefore not required to maintain standard of care or fall under professional medical code of practice," said Professor Ho.
Many of the agents used for doping in sport, such as anabolic steroids and growth hormone, are hormones. Peptides are either short hormones or fragments of hormones. Hormones are essential to maintain health and replacement of hormones is medically indicated in patients with well-documented hormone deficiencies.
However, the use of these agents in an unregulated fashion in adults who are not deficient may lead to serious side effects. Furthermore, the use of these agents is experimental if safety and benefit are not established. Clinical trial of the effectiveness of hormones for other uses is research and requires the full approval of a human research ethics committee and close monitoring.
Ethical considerations often prevent scientists from undertaking such research because the quantity of prescribed drugs that many athletes self-administer is far greater than therapeutic doses.
The Endocrine Society of Australia
Article adapted by Medical News Today from original press release. Source:
The Endocrine Society of Australia
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11 Dec. 2013. <http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/265279>
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