Have you ever wished you could become incredibly fit by consuming one “magic” item? After all, exercise is a lot of work, so wouldn’t it be easier if someone invented a pill to make you reach the pinnacle of fitness?
There hasn’t truly been one created yet, although some are saying selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs) are pretty close. But before you even think about trying them, you should be aware of the potential dangers of these pills.
According to the New York Times, these pills were initially created as a substitute for anabolic steroids for people who have muscle degeneration but they are supposedly marketed as “legal steroids” which make them seem like a catch-all solution for building the body of your dreams, as well as curing certain biological deficiencies.
However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned that these pills have not been approved for consumption and are still undergoing trials to test its efficacy and safety.
A study published in JAMA found that several of these pills that claim to be SARMs were, in fact, not pure. Of the 44 products which were bought and tested, about 50 percent had SARM while 10 percent didn’t have any in them. The remainder contained a mixture of untested drugs.
An author of the report, Dr. Shalender Bhasin, who is also the director of research programs in men’s health, aging and metabolism at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, warned against the use of such pills as their contents are largely unknown.
“We don’t know whether these compounds are safe,” Dr. Bhasin said, “but we do know that some of them have side effects.”
And despite the claim that they’re “legal steroids”, pro-athletes have been caught and banned for using them. For instance, Joakim Noah of the New York Knicks was suspended when a drug test detected traces of SARM in his system. CrossFit competitor, Ricky Garard, was also stripped of his title when he tested positive for it.
Despite tests which demonstrate that SARMs do provide some form of benefit, other studies also found that side effects are prevalent among test subjects. A trial run at Boston University revealed that LGD-4033, a SARM developed by Ligand Pharmaceuticals, was not dangerous for healthy men.
The outcome showed that they had “significant gains in muscle mass and strength”, but also resulted in a drop in the “good” HDL cholesterol.
“Long-term studies are needed to clarify the effects of long-term SARM administration on cardiovascular risk,” the researchers suggested.
However, don’t let the positive effects sway you. Dr. Thomas O’Connor, a doctor and powerlifter who founded a men’s health clinic and wrote a book called “America on Steroids,” said that there is no way to determine how harmful these SARMs can be in the long term.
“I always tell them the same thing,” Dr O’Connor said. “These are illicit agents. They’re not supported by expert guidelines and they’re dangerous. So don’t take them.”
Long story short, there is no shortcut to getting the body of your dreams. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
By Gilbert Wong, Men’s Health Content Producer