Definition: "An ergogenic aid is any substance or phenomenon that enhances performance "

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Bodybuilder on hCG almost loses last testicle

The 31-year-old Irish bodybuilder had already lost one testicle five years before to cancer. Doctors had removed the affected testicle, and the man had had radiotherapy. After the treatment the doctors examined the bodybuilder's blood regularly to check for any return of cancer. Even so, the man nearly lost his one remaining testicle.

Many testicular tumours produce the protein beta-hCG, full name: beta human chorionic gonadotrophin. That's why doctors check men who have had testicular cancer for the presence of beta-hCG and the chance of success of a treatment is around 99 percent.

Beta-hCG is half of the hormone hCG, which increases women's chance of becoming pregnant. Drugs containing hCG, such as Pregnyl made by Organon, are also found in doping circles. Chemical athletes use them after taking anabolic steroids to help restore their natural testosterone production. The picture to the right is a drawing of beta-hCG protein.

Bodybuilder on hCG almost loses last testicle
The hormone hCG is a dimer: it consists of two halves, the protein beta-hCG and an alpha part. The alpha part is a protein that is also found in the hormones LH, FSH and TSH.

LH is a hormone that stimulates the Leydig cells in the testes to produce testosterone. LH and hCG resemble each other. They not only have the same alpha part, but also a similar beta part. But the beta-hCG of hCG contains a few dozen amino acids that are not found in the beta-hCG of LH. Both hCG and LH interact with the LHCG receptor.

In any case, when oncologists at University College Dublin examined the bodybuilder's blood, they discovered a concentration of 28.5 units per milliliter of the protein beta-hCG. That is high. Men normally have less than five units of beta-hCG per milliliter in their blood. If concentration levels are around thirty, it can be a sign that the cancer has returned.

Bodybuilder on hCG almost loses last testicle
The doctors did a scan of the man's lower body, but found nothing strange. When they talked with the bodybuilder again, he told them that he had been using Deca in the past year. He had just stopped doing so and was now injecting himself with hCG to help his natural testosterone production to get going again.

It was a good thing that the doctors talked to the guy before taking the scalpel to his scrotum. In men who have had testicular cancer and whose hCG level rises doctors usually prescribe chemotherapy or other procedures as a matter of routine.

Chemical athletes often run into problems in hospitals. If you read the case studies which of course tend to reflect the doctors' point of view this is because athletes don't say that they have been using ergogenic substances. [Sad example]

World J Surg Oncol. 2008 Jun 25;6:68.