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Open Access Publications from the University of California

"Andro" or "No go": Evaluating the Risks of Androstenedione in Boosting Athletic Performance

  • Author(s): Lee, Christopher
  • et al.

Androstenedione, a precursor to testosterone, is produced in the adrenal glands and gonads. Testosterone's effects in promoting skeletal muscle growth are well-known among athletes. By taking these anabolic steroids, however, they predispose themselves to dangerous side effects. An ingested plant form of androstenedione has recently gained popularity as a natural and safe alternative to conventional anabolic steroids. Unfortunately, until recently, there had been only one study that investigated the effect of oral androstenedione administration on blood testosterone levels. A flurry of recent experiments has attempted to confirm these initial findings, as well as analyze the effect of androstenedione supplementation on skeletal muscle anabolism. Contrary to popular belief, several studies have claimed that androstenedione does not increase serum testosterone concentrations, and has no effect on muscle strength and size. Other studies report that this conclusion is not entirely correct either. These experiments suggest that androstenedione can produce elevated testosterone levels when administered at high enough doses. Perhaps the most important finding, however, is that androstenedione may produce the same side effects as conventional anabolic steroids. Coupled with testosterone's side effects, increased estradiol levels from androstenedione aromatization may predispose subjects to gynecomastia, cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, and prostate cancer.

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