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Androstenedione, DHEA and Athletes

A recent study from Harvard Medical School shows that androstenedione, the over-the-counter-food supplement taken by home-run king, Mark McGwire, raises male hormone levels (1) and therefore should help athletes become stronger.

In the 1960s and 70s athletes felt that doctors were incredibly stupid because they told them that synthetic male hormones, called anabolic steroids, will not help them to become stronger. The athletes still don't believe doctors who tell them that androstenedione and DHEA do not help make them stronger.

In the December, 1999 issue of the official journal of the American College of Sports Medicine, an article shows that the masculinizing hormones, DHEA and androstenedione, do not help middle-aged men become stronger (2). That doesn't apply to athletes. Training for competition is done by taking a hard workout, feeling sore on the next day or more, and then going easy until the soreness goes away.

Athletes know how long it takes for them to recover from workouts. If they recover faster so they can do more intense training, they know that a new drug or technique is helping them. Athletes train near their maximum, so they can tell when they recover faster and do more work. Middle-aged men can't possibly train at their maximum, so this study shows that most gym rats don't gain that much from taking masculinizing hormones, but competitive athletes training near their maximum, do benefit from these drugs.

1) BZ Leder, C Longcope, DH Catlin, B Ahrens, DA Schoenfeld, JS Finkelstein. Oral androstenedione administration and serum testosterone concentrations in young men. JAMA, 2000, Vol 283, Iss 6, pp 779-782.

2) Wallace MB, Lim J, Cutler A, Bucci L. Effects of dehydroepiandrosterone vs androstenedione supplementation in men. Med Sci Spts Exerc. 1999(Dec);31(12):1788-92.

Checked 9/20/08

May 12th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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