Questions Remain After New 'Andro' Study Release
In an interview with WebMD, Finkelstein said the study findings did not
conflict with the first study because of the differences in dosing. "The
results are not different," Finkelstein says. "I think our studies are
in complete agreement." He says it is too preliminary to say whether
androstenedione is harmful, but notes that the observed changes in estrogen may
lead to long-term health problems in men, affect growth in children, and hasten
puberty in adolescents. Yet Finkelstein says it is "too preliminary" to
suggest that androstenedione be withdrawn from sale to the public or that it
should be more heavily regulated.
Finkelstein added he and his colleagues did not study the effect on muscle
mass because dosing issues needed to be investigated first, an argument Yesalis
soundly rejects, especially because previous studies have already tried to
assess such an impact. Says Yesalis, "They had a responsibility to
incorporate body composition and strength in their study design. If this had
been the first study on this, I would not have had this complaint. But it's
Donald S. King, PhD, the lead author on the first study, also found fault
with the Harvard research. In an interview with WebMD, King says he believes
the testosterone increases seen by the Harvard team are insufficient to produce
any anabolic, or muscle-building, effects. "Any positive effects of the
androstenedione would be outweighed by the risks." King also faulted the
Harvard researchers for failing to look at HDL, instead of just total
cholesterol levels, which were unaffected. "I would like to have seen
that," he says. He suspects the HDL would have been reduced in this study
group, as it was among the men he studied. King is a professor in the
department of health and human performance at Iowa State University.
"The one really sad thing about this, in my opinion, is that Mark
McGwire's splendid or magnificent performance had nothing to do with
androstenedione," King says. "There's more to hitting a baseball than
how big your muscles are."
For Yesalis, there's also a message in this research and King's about
androstenedione. "This is a drug and it is only classified as a supplement
because of a loophole in [the law]. I don't know that it has any medical use
whatsoever," Yesalis says. "What has concerned me and still concerns me
is that any 8-year-old can buy this."
- According to a new study, men who took the supplement androstenedione
increased their levels of testosterone.
- Outside experts criticize the study because it failed to examine whether
andro helps build muscle mass.
- The potential negative side effects for men taking andro include reduced
HDL "good" cholesterol and increased estrogen levels.