SARMs vs. steroids: Are SARMs safer?
SARMs (Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators) are in high demand in the bodybuilding community due to their promising marketing promises.
Manufacturers of SARMs claim that they mimic the muscle-building effects of steroids, but have fewer side effects.
Is it true? Find out how SARMs really compare to steroids based on existing medical research and anecdotal observations.
SARMs, if deemed safe, would serve the same purpose as anabolic steroids in medicine, helping to increase: lean muscle mass, blood red blood cell count, and bone mineral content; in people suffering from cachexia (muscle wasting), anemia and osteoporosis.
Thus, SARMs were developed by scientists with the same goals as anabolic steroids, but SARMs are designed to be an excellent drug that will not have the cardiovascular, androgenic, hepatic or estrogenic effects that are characteristic of anabolic steroids dispensed today.
How SARMs work
SARMs and steroids share similarities in how they work: they bind strongly to the androgen receptor, promoting muscle building, strength, and fat loss in an athlete.
However, the new generation SARMs developed in the late 1990s are not steroids and therefore are not exogenous testosterone. Accordingly, this has sparked a debate among the bodybuilding community, claiming that it is possible to take SARMs and remain "natural".
A unique structural characteristic of SARMs is tissue selectivity, a mechanism that aims to promote anabolism in desired cells while suppressing unwanted effects in others, thus potentially eliminating or reducing the side effects associated with anabolic steroids.
Do steroids build muscle?
SARMs and anabolic steroids basically give the same results: increased muscle mass, strength, and fat loss (albeit to varying degrees).
There are medical studies showing that the results of the use of anabolic steroids are significantly higher compared to SARMs, with the latter increasing only a fraction of the dry mass.
In one study, scientists found that people who took SARMs increased their lean mass by 1kg-1.5kg in 4-6 weeks.
However, the Testosterone Enanthate group gained 5-7 kg of lean mass (at dosages of 300 and 600 mg/week).
Moreover, Dr. Thomas O'Connor has observed severe negative effects in many patients taking SARMs related to their cholesterol and liver profile. At the same time, he mentions that such patients practically did not notice changes in physique.
Are SARMs really safer than steroids?
Since the creation of testosterone in 1935, medical research into the effects of anabolic steroids spans nearly a century. Thus, the benefits, side effects, and safety of steroids in the short and long term are well known.
However, there is only a limited amount of research on SARMs (especially on human exposure) as they have only recently been discovered. Therefore, SARMs are in the category of investigational drugs, while anabolic steroids are not.
SARMs more suitable for women
Many anabolic steroids are not suitable for women due to the high frequency of virilization (male side effects).
Women taking steroids may experience: an increase in clitoral size, breast reduction, a deeper voice, irregular menstrual cycles, and body hair growth.
There are exceptions to this rule, such as Oxandrolone (Anavar), which women can take in moderate doses and avoid male effects.
Despite limited research on the association of SARMs with virilization, early anecdotal evidence suggests that they are better tolerated by women due to tissue selectivity that reduces androgenicity.
However, women who take SARMs are still at significant risk to their liver and heart. Such health risks are significantly less with mild, female-friendly steroids such as Anavar.
Side effects (SARMs vs. steroids)
Theoretically, the side effects of SARMs should be milder than those of anabolic steroids due to the mechanics of tissue selectivity. However, in practice, according to Dr. O'Connor, the side effects of SARMs are similar (or even more severe).
The negative effects of SARMs on the heart can be similar in severity to oral steroids due to the same route of administration (oral).
When taken orally and swallowed, SARMs and oral steroids are metabolized by the liver, which in turn increases the levels of the enzyme hepatic lipase, negatively affecting HDL cholesterol.
Some injectable steroids are indeed safer from a cardiovascular point of view than SARMs; in effect, they bypass the liver and maintain a healthier blood lipid profile.
Legal status of drugs
The legality of SARMs is more of a gray area. Purchasing them for "research purposes" is perfectly legal, so if you buy SARMs to give liquid drops to a rat and observe the effect, it's perfectly legal.
However, because SARMs have not been approved by the FDA for human use, they are technically illegal to buy or sell for human consumption; due to the fact that their formula was developed recently, and long-term effects have not yet been established.
SARMs vs Steroids: Who will win?
There is almost a century of research documenting the effects of anabolic steroids, while research on SARMs is only two decades old (with limited human trials).
Based on existing research, there is reason to believe that SARMs are more harmful than steroids, with significantly less effect on the physique.
Thus, the risk-benefit ratio looks much better for steroids than for SARMs, especially when using "safer steroids" such as: Testosterone - which doctors prescribe daily to men around the world.