Are SARMs Steroids: A Step Closer to “Safe Steroids”

Steroid tablets spilling from a bottle
Table of Contents

The beneficial properties of anobolic steroids have been exploited in research, sports medicine, and other arenas (both legally and illegally) for years [1]. 

The numerous side effects of anabolic steroids have, however, presented a complexity that has had scientists racking their brains for a tenable solution. Gynecomastia (breast enlargement in men) is just one of the many unfortunate side effects of steroid treatment, other benefits notwithstanding [1].

A new class of steroid look-alike compounds, Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators (SARMs) has emerged from a massive research effort. This is a rather misrepresented class of compounds, and many mistake SARMs for steroids [2].

News on SARMs and the unique benefits  they offer is causing excitement as many wonder whether scientists have finally created a class of safer steroids. There are many variables surrounding this sentiment that this myth-busting article addresses comprehensively.

Read on to learn more about what SARMs are and their difference from typical steroids. 

Are SARMs Like Steroids?

The short answer is no, selective androgen receptor modulators, SARMs are not steroids. SARMs are ligands that act “selectively” on a androgen receptor (s). The selective action on androgen receptors (ARs) makes the greatest difference between SARMs and steroids [3].

SARMs produce anabolic effects when they bind to androgen receptor (s) with minimal androgenic effects, but they are not anabolic steroids [3].

Anabolic activity triggered by SARMs and steroids increases muscle mass and bone density in clinical studies [4]. 

According to research, androgenic effects increase masculinization. SARMs, however, are unlike anabolic steroids as they produce minimal androgenic effects because of their selective action on androgen receptor (s). Steroids, on the other hand, trigger amplified androgenic effects [3,4]. 

How different are SARMs from anabolic steroids?

3 Differences between SARMs and Steroids

Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators and steroids have one striking similarity. They are both ligands of androgen receptor(s) and hence they trigger anabolic effects that can be used in a clinical setting [3,4].

The two have a few major differences, though, that paint SARMs in a fairer light [3,4]. These are discussed below.

1. Interaction with Androgen Receptors

Steroids bind to all androgen receptors, but SARMs don’t. SARMs have been chemically engineered to target androgen receptors that are involved with muscle and bone growth, but they avoid “off-targets.” This enhances their positive effects while reducing some of their negative effects [3,4].

2. Side Effects

According to research, SARMs have fewer androgenic and estrogenic side effects compared to steroids because of their selective action on androgen receptors and lack of conversion to estrogens [3,4].

Steroid action on the androgen receptors, conversely, is attracted to all Androgen Receptors, including those in the prostate, scalp, and breast [3,4].

The lack of selective actions causes a myriad of adverse effects, including the following [5]:


  • Hair loss

  • Reduction in size of testicles

  • Increase in size of prostate glands

  • Breast enlargement (gynecomastia)


  • Acne

  • Enlarged clitoris

  • Deepening of voice

  • Growth of body hair

Other Serious Complications [6]

  • Blood clots

  • Liver failure

  • Heart attack

3. Legality

Anabolic steroids are classified as class 3 compounds in the U.S. and can only be used as prescription medications. They are classified as class C compounds in the UK and are also prescription meds [7]. 

SARMs are approved only as investigational compounds in the U.S. They are banned for all other purposes, including sports such as the world anti doping agency [7]. 

The steroids vs. Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators conversation must continue, as awareness of SARMs is increasing. Through conducting research, they are beginning to lose their stigma as they’re increasingly distinguished from steroids [7]. 

It is to note that neither of these chemicals are dietary supplements and should not be marketed as such. SARMs are not for human consumption at this time and are considered research chemicals only [7].

SARMS should not be marketed as dietary supplement product labels. These chemicals are banned by the National Collegiate Athletic Association and are anti-doping agency WADA, the world anti-doping agency. 

They are also a part of operation supplement safety. These chemicals are only approved for research purposes only.

4 Potential Benefits of SARMs Researchers are Studying

Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators are investigational compounds that are of great interest to the global research community [3,4].

While the benefits of steroids are widely known, research indicates SARMs offer similar benefits without associated virilizing, feminizing, and other off-target effects [3,4]. Here are some of the effects of SARMs that are under investigation by researchers: 

1. SARMs Increase Lean Muscle Mass and Promote Fat Loss

Preliminary studies have shown that one or more SARMs increase lean muscle mass and muscle strength. A study on SARMs, for example, found that SARMs differ from commonly used androgenic steroids [3]. 

This is by their ability to stimulate muscle mass and bone growth with lesser prostatic effects and virilizing effects in female animals [3]. This finding can elicit more research related to muscle wasting disorders and their effects on prostate cancer.

2. Primary or Secondary Hypogonadism (potential therapy for reduced testosterone production)

A recent study investigated SARMs as a potential therapy for male hypogonadism (reduced testosterone levels and production) [1]. 

The researchers found that SARMs may provide a valid alternative to testosterone replacement therapy and limit the negative effects of testosterone treatment. RAD 140 has been the primary target for these studies, though it has yet to prove capability in providing the wide array of benefits associated with healthy testosterone levels. More research is needed to confirm whether this is valid, as androgenic effects seem absent from SARMs that are presently in circulation [1].

3. Potential Therapy for Osteopenia or Osteoporosis

A 2006 study investigated the effects of SARMs on osteoporosis in a rat model. The researchers found that SARMs therapy is effective in reducing osteoporosis fractures and offers greater benefits compared to current therapies that are anti-resorptive [8]. This finding can elicit more research related to bone tissue.

4. Potential Therapy for AIDS or Cancer-Related Cachexia

Cachexia refers to the excessive muscle loss that occurs with cancer. A preliminary study on Ostarine (SARMs) has shown that it may be useful in managing cancer-related muscle loss (cachexia) and causes minimal side effects.  The researchers recommended further studies [9]. 

Researchers are exploring the use of SARMs in other areas, such as the treatment of breast cancer and prostate cancer. The potential of SARMs is immense and very exciting [8, 9]. More clinical trials must be completed to validate these findings on breast cancer.

3 Pitfalls to Avoid When Buying SARMs

Researchers can purchase Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators legally for investigational purposes as these are not dietary supplements and are not to be used for human consumption. There’s a need to be cautious since most of the SARMs in the market are not legitimate [10]. 

A study that was recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association revealed that only about 50% of products being marketed as SARMs contain any SARM as an active ingredient [10]. Here are three pitfalls to avoid when purchasing SARMs.

1. Do Not Purchase SARMs from the Black Market

The black market is flooded with products marketed as SARMs that are likely to be offered at cheap prices and falsely advertised as a dietary supplement. Most of these products don’t contain any SARMs and you should therefore avoid them. 

2. Do Not Purchase SARMs That Have Exaggerated Claims

Some SARMs providers will make false and exaggerated claims about what SARMs can do, but these are research chemicals that are for research and clinical trials only. Always counter-check claims against scientific research evidence and avoid vendors making false claims. 

3. Do Not Purchase SARMs without Knowing Exactly What You Want

There are different types of SARMs on the market and they each have different properties. It is important to investigate the different types of SARMs, their mechanism of action, adverse effects, and side effects before you make that order. 

SARMs offer a rare opportunity to exploit the anabolic effects of steroids without being encumbered by most of the distressing androgenic steroid side effects. To learn more about our SARMs for sale or to learn about our newest selection of peptides, you can always talk to experts from the Sports Technology Labs.

Pure compounds are tested and certified by accredited American third-party labs that accept phone calls to verify the validity of their certificates. Read more on the science behind SARMs so you know exactly what to look for.

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Pure compounds tested and certified by accredited American third party labs that accept phone calls to verify the validity of their certificates.
  • SARMS: Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators that target and activate androgen receptors
  • Used for muscle wasting disorders, cancer, obesity, and more
  • Testosterone: Natural hormone used for similar purposes
  • Caution and guidance from professionals needed due to potential side effects and monitoring requirements of both compounds

SARMS are a newer class of compounds that selectively target androgen receptors in the body.

Testosterone is a hormone naturally produced in the body and helps with muscle growth, energy levels, and libido.

SARMS have fewer side effects compared to Testosterone, but can still cause some side effects such as hair loss, acne, and liver damage. Their side effects are still being tested in research and clinical trials.

Visit the Sports Technology Labs Blog for News and Information about SARMs

Look no further than Sports Technology Labs for the highest quality RAD 140, Ligandrol, Ostarine, MK 677, and other SARMs. Visit the Sports Technology Labs research blog for information about new products, updates in the industry, side effects, new scientific literature, and product comparisons.

WARNING: Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators, SARMs, are note dietary supplements. They are research chemicals that should be utilized by professionals only. Their health risks are currently under study and undergoing research on animal models.

Scientific References:

1. Rahnema, C. D., Lipshultz, L. I., Crosnoe, L. E., Kovac, J. R., & Kim, E. D. (2014). Anabolic steroid–induced hypogonadism: diagnosis and treatment. Fertility and sterility101(5), 1271-1279.

2. Machek, S. B., Cardaci, T. D., Wilburn, D. T., & Willoughby, D. S. (2020). Considerations, possible contraindications, and potential mechanisms for deleterious effect in recreational and athletic use of selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs) instead of anabolic androgenic steroids: A narrative review. Steroids, 164, 108753.

3. Narayanan, R., Coss, C. C., & Dalton, J. T. (2018). Development of selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs). Molecular and cellular endocrinology, 465, 134-142.

4. Hanada, K., Furuya, K., Yamamoto, N., Nejishima, H., Ichikawa, K., Nakamura, T., … & Oguro, N. (2003). Bone anabolic effects of S-40503, a novel nonsteroidal selective androgen receptor modulator (SARM), in rat models of osteoporosis. Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin, 26(11), 1563-1569.

5. Appuchu, M. B. (2016). To study impact of dietary and lifestyle intervention (counselling) on physical fitness levels of adults enrolled in selected gyms in Manipal (Doctoral dissertation, Manipal University).

6. Urhausen, A., Torsten, A., & Wilfried, K. (2003). Reversibility of the effects on blood cells, lipids, liver function and hormones in former anabolic–androgenic steroid abusers. The Journal of steroid biochemistry and molecular biology, 84(2-3), 369-375.

7. Collins, R. (2005). Changing the game: the congressional response to sports doping via the anabolic steroid control act. New Eng. L. Rev., 40, 753.

8. Gao, W., & Dalton, J. T. (2007). Expanding the therapeutic use of androgens via selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs). Drug discovery today, 12(5-6), 241-248.

9. Mantovani, G., & Madeddu, C. (2010). Cancer cachexia: medical management. Supportive Care in Cancer, 18, 1-9.


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