Anabolic steroids are a class of synthetic hormones that are designed to mimic the effects of testosterone. They are often used for medical purposes, such as to treat conditions such as osteoporosis and muscle wasting, as well as for performance enhancement in athletes. However, there is ongoing debate about the potential impact of anabolic steroids on life expectancy. Some research has suggested that these hormones may increase lifespan by delaying the aging process, while other studies have warned about potential risks associated with anabolic steroid use.
In this article, we will explore the results of a human study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, which may shed some light on the impact of anabolic steroids on life expectancy.
Telomeres and Aging
Telomeres are the protective caps at the ends of our chromosomes, which help to keep the genetic information within the chromosomes stable. Every time our cells divide, the telomeres get shorter, until they eventually disappear, leading to cell death. This gradual shortening of telomeres is one of the key factors that drive the aging process.
Some individuals have a genetic defect that causes their telomeres to shorten at a faster rate than normal, leading to a range of symptoms, including anaemia. This is because the cells in their bone marrow are unable to produce enough blood cells due to the accelerated aging of these cells.
Anabolic Steroids and Telomeres
A recent study set out to investigate the impact of anabolic steroids on telomere length. The researchers specifically looked at the effect of danazol, an anabolic steroid commonly used to treat anaemia. In a previous in-vitro study, androgens were found to activate the enzyme telomerase in human cells, which is involved in maintaining telomere length. The researchers wanted to see if danazol could have a similar effect on telomere length in human subjects.
The study recruited two dozen patients with a genetic defect causing accelerated telomere shortening. The subjects were given two doses of 400 mg danazol per day for two years. The results showed that the length of their telomeres increased during the period of danazol treatment, but the effect largely disappeared a year after treatment stopped.
Advantages and Risks of Anabolic Steroid Use
The results of this study suggest that anabolic steroids may have some potential benefits in terms of delaying the aging process by increasing telomere length. However, the researchers also warned about potential risks associated with anabolic steroid use. Telomere attrition and dysfunction have been linked to the development of cancer in both animals and humans, and the researchers caution that the advantages and risks of modifying telomere loss will need to be assessed in future studies.
In conclusion, while the results of this study are promising, more research is needed to fully understand the impact of anabolic steroids on life expectancy. It is important to remember that anabolic steroids are a powerful class of hormones, and their use should be carefully monitored and regulated. Anyone considering taking anabolic steroids should talk to their doctor to weigh the potential benefits and risks and make an informed decision.