WHAT ARE SARMs?
A SARM (an acronym for “Selective Androgen Receptor Modulator”) is a drug that is chemically similar to anabolic steroids but with reduced androgenic properties. The main advantages SARMs have over anabolic steroids are androgen-receptor specificity, tissue selectivity, and reduced side effects. SARMs also have the ability to differentiate between anabolic and androgenic activities, whereas steroids do not.
OK – that’s enough of the long-winded scientific words – what exactly do SARMs do? How do SARMs work? And why are they such a hot topic in the realm of bodybuilding and performance sports?
HOW DO SARMs WORK?
SARMs stimulate androgen receptors specifically in muscle and bone cells, hence assisting with muscle and bone growth while having little effect on the other cells in the body (unlike regular steroids). They have a special affinity for certain tissues like muscle and bone, but not for others, like the prostate, liver, and brain. This means more rapid muscle and bone growth without unwanted growth in other parts of your body.
SARMs also don’t break down into unwanted molecules that cause side effects, like DHT and estrogen, as easily as anabolic steroids. Finally, because SARMs are less powerful than regular steroids, they don’t suppress natural testosterone production as heavily, making them easier to recover from and rarely requiring post-cycle therapy (PCT).
If you think of taking anabolic steroids like aggressively throwing a bucket of paint over a picket fence to paint it, which results in wastage and unwanted paint all over the place, then taking SARMs is like dipping a paintbrush into the bucket of paint and only painting the specific parts of the picket fence that you want to paint.
Initial research has indicated that although SARMs are not as powerful for muscle building as traditional anabolic steroids, they are certainly more effective than any form of natural hormone supplement.
Sounds pretty enticing, right? Well, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. As with any compound that stimulates particular receptors in the human body, there are risks that need to be weighed up against the rewards.
ARE SARMs DANGEROUS?
The short answer is yes. The more complicated question is “How Dangerous Are SARMs?”, to which we would answer “We just don’t know”.
SARMs have only been around for about a decade and, unfortunately, are lacking in human research. Therefore we just don’t know enough about exactly how they work and their potential long-term side effects, which in itself is a very legitimate cause for concern.
Here’s what we do know… SARMs do suppress natural testosterone production. In fact, SARMs are currently being investigated as a male contraceptive because they lower levels of both luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), which reduces sperm count and natural testosterone levels.
SARMs aren’t completely free from side effects either; they just tend to be minimal when taken in small doses. The problem is bodybuilders and performance athletes generally don’t take anything in small doses, which is why they may experience many of the side effects associated with anabolic steroid use, including acne and hair loss.
But perhaps the greatest cause for concern is the potential for SARMs to raise your risk of cancer. Several large trials on the SARM Cardarine had to be cancelled because it was causing cancerous growths in the intestines of mice – even at very low doses.
We know what you’re thinking… “Yeah yeah – but everything causes cancer these days… “
Hey – don’t shoot the messenger. We’re just laying the facts out for you to consider and make your own decision.
ARE SARMs LEGAL?
It depends on which country you live in.
In Australia, SARMs are not completely illegal, but they are included in Schedule 4 of the Poisons Standard, which makes purchasing them in Australia without a valid prescription illegal.
However, if you’re a competitive athlete, you should know that SARMs are actually banned in most sports. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has already banned them, and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will soon be testing for them as well.
SHOULD YOU GET SARM?
See what we did there ^^
SARMs are an alternative to anabolic steroids that deliver a portion of the benefits with fewer of the known side-effects.
They aren’t as effective as anabolic steroids, but they do boost muscle growth much more rapidly than any natural hormone supplement on the market.
They appear to be safer than anabolic steroids too, but don’t think that means they’re unequivocally safe to take. Research clearly shows that they do suppress natural testosterone production and negatively impact the endocrine system, and there’s evidence to suggest that they may increase the risk of cancer to a far greater degree than any natural supplement ever will.
So it really comes down to risk v reward (and patience). If you’re chasing some quick gains and don’t care too much about side effects, then SARMs may be your answer.
However, if you’re in this lifestyle for the long term and care about your long term health, natural hormone optimizers are a much smarter choice.