Steroid Can Restore Body Tissue in HIV-Positive People, Study Says
March 9, 2006
The oral anabolic steroid oxandrolone is effective in restoring muscle and fat tissue that many HIV-positive people lose, according to a study published in the March issue of the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes, Reuters Health reports (Norton, Reuters Health, 3/8). HIV-related wasting is a complication in which people lose a significant percentage of their normal weight, leaving them at risk for secondary infections. Carl Grunfeld of the University of California-San Francisco and colleagues gave 262 HIV-positive men who had experienced weight loss greater than or equal to 10% to 20% of their body mass index either oxandrolone -- in doses of 20 mg, 40 mg or 80 mg -- or a placebo daily for 12 weeks (Grunfeld et al., JAIDS, March 2006). The men who took the steroid in all dose levels had gained weight and muscle tissue, researchers found. The steroid also produced side effects, including an increase in LDL cholesterol, which is considered unhealthy cholesterol, and a decrease in HDL cholesterol, which is considered healthy cholesterol, the study finds. Some of the men also showed signs of liver toxicity, according to the study. Current therapies for tissue loss, including nutritional supplements and a drug called megestrol acetate, mostly increase body fat, and growth hormone therapies, which also can treat tissue wasting, increase muscle mass but decrease fat stores, Reuters Health reports. Anabolic steroids like oxandrolone restore both tissue and fat, Grunfeld said, adding that the benefits must be weighed against the side effects. Grunfeld also said that although oxandrolone is not specifically approved for HIV-related wasting, physicians may prescribe it to treat the condition (Reuters Health, 3/8).
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