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Could Steroids Help the Elderly?
by admin on: November 23rd, 2011

Anabolic-androgenic steroids, often just called ???anabolic steroids,” are pharmacological agents that are synthetic versions of the male sex hormone known as testosterone. The word ???anabolic??? refers to drug’s aspect of muscle building while the ???androgenic??? refers to sex characteristics of men. As noted by the website for the National Institute on Drug Abuse, steroids can be legally prescribed to patients that present with conditions that result from steroid hormone deficiency such as delayed puberty. Steroids may also be prescribed for patients who have diseases that reduce the amount of lean muscle mass, such as AIDS or cancer.

A short article published online in 2009 stated that steroids and protein shakes helped keep the elderly out of the hospital. This article described a study conducted by researchers from the University of Adelaide (in Australia) and the Royal Adelaide Hospital where 50 undernourished elderly subjects were provided with protein-rich meals and Andriol (an oral testosterone preparation). Without commenting on the science of this study, these results make intuitive sense ??? muscle tone diminishes as people age. But, if strengthening the elderly is really that simple, why aren???t more physicians prescribing this sort of therapy?

An article published in theNew York Times(August 31, 2010) answers this question in two words ??? “side effects.” In fact, until recently, there was a federally funded study that was investigating the potential benefits of providing the elderly with testosterone. While this study demonstrated that testosterone increased the strength in the elderly population, the study was abruptly ended because the patients receiving the steroids suffered (on average) more cardiac problems than subjects receiving the placebo. Of course, pharmaceutical companies are not throwing in the towel and giving up on this line of research. Rather, other avenues are being pursued.

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