SARMs are a class of nonsteroidal drugs that were initially developed for age- and disease-related muscle wasting. Researchers have investigated their potential for treating osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, sexual dysfunction, multiple sclerosis, and muscle wasting. The research regarding the use of SARMs in humans is unfortunately limited, though.
The science and athletic communities are well-aware of a class of drugs called selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs), which have gained a reputation as a “steroid alternative” due to their purported ability to build lean muscle mass. SARMs are nonsteroidal, but they have still been banned in some athletic communities and by anti-doping agencies as performance-enhancing substances.
There are many types of SARMs in various phases of human studies and clinical trials, with many similarities and differences. Some examples of different SARMS are RAD 140, Ligandrol, Cardarine, MK-677, and Ostarine. This guide will tell you what you need to know about these drugs and help you understand the SARMs ban as it stands in 2021.
Understanding the Current SARMs Ban
The FDA hasn’t approved SARMs for human consumption, so medical professionals don’t recommend them for nonscientific uses. They can be purchased in their chemical form for research use, however. Here are a few other things you should know about the current ban.
- SARMs are legal to buy in the United States for laboratory research.
- They are only approved as investigational drugs for research purposes and are not intended for human consumption.
- SARMs packaged for human consumption are illegal, as is labeling them as dietary supplements.
- They are prohibited by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), categorizing them under “Other Anabolic Agents” on WADA’s Prohibited List. That means athletes who play competitive sports should not participate in research that involves SARMs.
- They are also banned by the National Football League (NFL), all divisions of the NCAA, and Major League and Minor League Baseball (MLB and MiLB).
- Drug tests that are being administered for athletic purposes will likely test for SARMs, so using them can cause an individual to fail a drug test. They do not generally show up on the drug screens used for employment.
Anyone purchasing these drugs for research should do their homework to find a trusted supplier that does third-party testing on their products. Research studies have shown that the SARMs marketed and sold as such by some suppliers have misleading labels. Studies found that over half actually contained SARMs, and an additional 39% contained another unapproved drug.
This is why it’s important to purchase only products that an independent laboratory has verified so they meet the rigorous standards of 98% purity used by laboratories, universities, and clinical researchers worldwide.
Potential Side Effects of Using SARMs
The use of SARMs may produce lean muscle mass, but there are potential risks that must be assessed. There is limited information about the side effects of the various versions of these drugs due to the lack of clinical research. Some of the more common and serious side effects have been documented, however, including:
Possible Serious Side Effects
The FDA issued a public health advisory letter in October 2017 stating that “life-threatening reactions,” including liver toxicity, have occurred in people taking SARMs. They also advised that the drugs may potentially increase the risk of cardiovascular events such as strokes or heart attacks.
SARMs are also believed to reduce the amount of HDL or “good” cholesterol. One of the most common complaints about them is that they cause gastrointestinal issues.
Effects on Testosterone Levels
SARMs are not steroids but rather selective androgenic agents. Due to this interaction with the androgen receptor, they may suppress natural testosterone levels in men. The side effects of decreased testosterone may include but are not limited to erectile dysfunction, infertility, reduced libido, loss of bone density, muscle weakness, insomnia, depression, and weight gain accompanied by an increase in body fat.
Long-Term Effects Unknown
It’s important to remember that SARMs don’t have FDA approval and are still being studied in clinical trials. Since there’s no FDA approval and they’re still being studied in humans, the long-term consequences of SARMs use are relatively unknown. The lack of research currently available also limits what is known about potential significant drug interactions.
Now that you are familiar with the potential side effects of SARMs, you may be wondering about their potential benefits and why anyone would use them for research despite the WADA ban. Keep reading to learn about some of the observed benefits that clinical research has revealed.
Potential Benefits of SARMs
There are many known side effects to SARMs, but investigational studies have also revealed some potential benefits. RAD 140, or Testolone, for example, has been studied for use in Alzheimer’s disease. It has also recently been studied in breast cancer patients. Here are some of the benefits studies have noted in these drugs:
- Cardarine was found to burn fatty acids, promote fat loss, and increase insulin sensitivity.
- RAD 140 was found to lower LDL and triglycerides, increase lean body mass, and have neuroprotective and cognitive benefits.
- Ligandrol increased lean muscle mass with sustainable gains and accelerated the healing of muscle, bone, and connective tissue post-injury and post-surgery.
- Ostarine was found to have connective tissue healing properties.
- MK-677 increased bone density and fat-free mass.
Researchers are continuing to study these drugs for use in humans, so there’s hope they can unlock their potential for medical and muscle-building uses.
Visit the Sports Technology Labs Blog for News and Information About SARMs
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