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Androstenedione, DHEA,

And Other Steroid Supplements 

Popularized by high profile athletes, such as Mark McGwire, legal steroid supplements are rapidly becoming some of the most popular products in the dietary supplement and herbal medicine market. They have been touted to rejuvenate, improve energy, and improve strength and muscle size. They have been popular for several years, however after the revelation that McGwire used them in his homerun record season, sales have boomed.

The most popular of the steroid supplements are dehydroepiandosterone (DHEA), androstenedione, and androstenediol. In the body, these are converted into testosterone, the body’s own anabolic steroid. Androstenedione, the one McGwire reportedly uses, is the closest to testosterone and is the strongest anabolic steroid of the three. Anabolic steroids have long been used as performance enhancing drugs to increase strength and size for competitive sports. Most anabolic steroids are available only prescription and are tightly controlled. They are intended for legitimate medical uses, such as for people who have a hormone deficiency or who have muscle wasting due to cancer or HIV. However, these steroid supplements are over the counter and are not regulated.

Because they are not regulated by the FDA, much is not known about their usefulness, quality, and possible side effects. Research on them is limited. They do not have to undergo the rigorous clinical trials to determine effectiveness, appropriate dosage, side effects, and safety that pharmaceuticals must submit to. Also, quality control is not always good in the supplement industry. Some brands may not have the stated amount of ingredient, may not be well absorbed, or may even be contaminated.

It is not clear how effective these supplements are. Androstenedione is the strongest, but appears to be weaker than the prescription steroids. Some may not be effective at all. The better products when coupled with vigorous workouts will probably yield increased strength and muscle size. However, these gains are usually lost within a few weeks to months after stopping the supplement. Appropriate dosages are not known.

Natural does not mean safe. These "natural" anabolic steroids would be expected to have the same risks as their prescription counterparts. These risks include acne, increased body hair, increased cholesterol and heart disease, irritability, aggressiveness, liver problems, kidney problems, and dependency. Additionally, in men they can cause balding, shrinkage of the testicles, breast enlargement, and prostate problems. They can increase the growth of prostate cancer. In women they can cause deepening of the voice, increased facial hair, clitoral enlargement, and menstrual problems. They are very dangerous in teenagers, because they can stop further growth by closing bone growth plates.

For college, professional, Olympic, and other competitive athletes that undergo steroid drug testing, these supplements will cause positive tests. They are banned by the IOC, NCAA, and NFL.

Like many Americans, gays, lesbians, and bisexuals are into working out. There seems to be a heavy emphasis on a muscular physique in many segments of our community. Therefore weight training and bodybuilding are particularly popular. With this comes a desire for easier and more rapid gains, such as those promised by steroid supplements. These supplements have risks and side effects. Obviously, the healthiest approach to working out is to do it naturally, without any supplements. If you do decide to use these supplements, buy only a reputable brand from a reputable dealer. Use them for the shortest length of time possible. Be alert for possible side effects. Hopefully, you can comfortably talk with your physician about your supplement use, and he or she can advise you about your particular risks or benefits.

 

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