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16 June 2003
Steroid Doesn't Boost Testosterone Levels
by George Atkinson

A hormone supplement targeted to middle aged men to boost testosterone levels, changes hormonal balance, and could be potentially harmful, if taken long term, indicates a small study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Androstenedione is an anabolic steroid, used by some athletes to boost their performance. It is marketed to men as an anti-aging supplement.

The researchers base their findings on eight men in their mid 40s who took a daily dose of 200 mg of androstenedione for four weeks, followed by the same dose of a placebo, without knowing which they were being given.

Hormone levels were tested for three hours after the supplement had been taken on the first and last day of each monthly schedule. Other factors likely to be affected by a change in hormonal profile, such as blood fats, cholesterol, weight, body fat, heart rate and blood pressure, were also assessed.

The results showed that compared with the placebo, androstenedione levels increased significantly during the first three hours after the supplement had been taken on the first day of the schedule. But after a month of taking the agent, levels dropped by 60%. Furthermore, the supplement did not raise testosterone levels significantly, nor did it have any effect on body fat, blood pressure or heart rate.

The supplement also seemed to interfere with innate hormonal balance, by boosting levels of another weaker androgen DHEAS, the long term effects of which are as yet unknown.

The authors of the study say that there is no evidence to suggest that androstenedione enhances performance, increases muscle mass, or promotes any of the other physical indicators of good health.

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