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Supplements, Steroid Precursors, and Adolescent Health

Anabolic steroid precursors (also called prohormones) are substances that can be converted by the body into anabolic steroids. Anabolic steroids are a class of natural and synthetic (manufactured) substances related to the male sex hormone testosterone.

Anabolic steroids promote growth of muscle and can make bones stronger and reduce body fat. In addition, all anabolic steroids are androgenic. This means they cause male characteristics, such as facial hair and a deepened voice. However, because of their chemical structure, anabolic steroid precursors can also be converted into the female hormone estrogen, which can cause breast enlargement in men.

Until recently, these steroid precursors were advertised and sold as dietary supplements to improve athletic performance and body image. Although most are banned in the United States, use of these products by professional athletes and bodybuilders made them popular among young people who wished to be like those role models.

Some of the commonly used anabolic steroid precursors include:

• Androstenedione (or “andro”)
• Androstenediol
• Norandrostenedione
• Norandrostenediol
• Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA)

Because steroid precursors can have dangerous side effects, many of these products

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The Hormone Foundation

Dr. Lysette Iglesias M.D.

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