Ageless Doctor

Reporter: Georgia Main

While most of his friends are retired Dr. John Levin, grandfather of 12, is still working and at the gym four times a week. His secret is Human Growth Hormone.

"I inject myself six times a week and I have been doing it for 15 years. I took it because I don't want to end up in a nursing home, I want to feel good when I'm older, I want to have a better quality of life", Dr. Levin said.

Human Growth Hormone is used to treat children with growth disorders and adults with severe hormone deficiencies. In small doses, Dr Levin claims he's proof the hormone can literally turn back the ageing process.

But this fountain of youth doesn't come cheap -- around 100 of Dr Levin's patients who take the hormone, are spending up to $100 a week on injections.

Director of Endocrinology at Melbourne's Alfred Hospital, Professor Duncan Topliss, warns there are risks. "It can improve lean body mass a little and decrease fat mass a little, but these are very marginal effects by and large", he said.

While the hormone isn't illegal, it's not approved for anti-ageing purposes. It's up to doctors to decide if it's "medically appropriate" to prescribe. "To get approved by the TGA you have to spend maybe half a million to a million dollars. Now no drug company will spend that money on growth hormone because God invented it, they didn't and they can't patent it", Dr. Levin said.

By the time we turn 50, we've got half the hormone level we had at 25. Most of Dr Levin's patients are men. Actor Nick Nolte was one of the first to use the Human Growth Hormone as an anti-aging drug and Sylvester Stallone just couldn't let go of Rocky -- he was caught smuggling 48 vials of human growth hormone into Sydney in 2007.

Health Services Commissioner Beth Wilson isn't convinced the drug is being used responsibly. "Long term use we've got no idea what kind of impact that might have on people's health. For it to be used for non medical purposes is of great concern. "If an endocrinologist can show me one paper -- just one paper -- that shows that the dosage of growth hormone in my patients can have any harm, I'll stop taking it and I'll stop my patients taking it", Dr. Levin said.

For further information contact Dr. Levin on (03) 9866 1663 or consult your own GP