Treatment with an anabolic agent is associated with improvement in respiratory function in persons with tetraplegia: A pilot study.
Researchers:Spungen AM., Grimm DR., Strakhan M., Pizzolato PM., & Bauman WA.
Work originated at Spinal Cord Damage Research Center, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY; and Medicine and Spinal Cord Injury Services, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Room 1E-02, 130 West Kingsbridge Road, Bronx, NY 10468
Source:Mount Sinai Journal of Medicine 66(3):201-205, 1999
Summary:The effect of one-month treatment with oxandrolone on weight gain and pulmonary function was studied in ten subjects with complete motor tetraplegia. Spirometry, maximal inspiratory and expiratory pressures, and resting self-rating of dyspnea (Borg Scale of perceived exertion) were measured at baseline and repeated again at the end of one month of oxandrolone therapy (20 mg/day). Serum lipid profiles and liver function tests were performed before and after treatment. A paired t-test was used to determine pre- and post-treatment differences on the dependent variables. Percent change from baseline was calculated for each variable and tested using a one- sample t-test.
Results:On average, the subjects gained 1.4+/-1.5 kg, a 2+/-2% increase in weight. A significant, ~9% improvement was found in the combined measures of spirometry. Maximal inspiratory pressure improved an average of ~10%. Subjective self rating of dyspnea decreased an average of ~37%.
Discussion:The only reason I decided to include this study was that it demonstrated the usefulness of anabolic drugs outside of bodybuilding. Having been involved in bodybuilding for many, many years I have seen steroids go from relative obscurity to blacklisted as one of the major ills of modern society. I have always felt I was born at the wrong time considering my intrinsic aspirations for unimaginable muscle mass. Consequent to the criminalization of using steroids by our society, my aspirations have been left largely (no pun intended) unrealized. I’m sure there are many out there who have also had to adjust their physique goals in order to accommodate the double standards and ignorance of the general public, not to mention politicians. Now if you will excuse me as I step off my soap box we can discuss the study at hand.
There are approximately 200,000 people who have suffered spinal cord injuries (SCI) in the US. Statistics show that there are about 7-10,000 new cases occurring each year. Perhaps now more than ever, attention has been drawn to research aimed at finding a cure for SCIs thanks in large part to the activism of Christopher Reeves who suffered injury to his spinal cord after falling from a horse.
Because the diaphragm muscle is enervated from the 1st cervical to the 12th thoracic vertebrae, any damage within this region, or worse yet upstream, has devastating effects on the individuals ability to breath. This poses problems not only because of insufficient oxygen intake but also because they are unable to effectively cough and expel airway secretions. This leads to pneumonia and other similar conditions which are the leading cause of morbidity and mortality during the period following the initial injury.
These researchers found that through the use of Oxandrolone (Anavar) they could increase the mass of the diaphragm muscle, thus improving indicators of respiratory function. Subjects also gained an average of 3 lbs in 4 weeks using 20 mg of oxandrolone per day and eating about 1 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. The researchers chose Oxandrolone because of it causes relatively few side effects and is also considered to have a high anabolic/androgenic ratio.
This study is another clear indicator that anabolic compounds need not be demonized. Was that the point of this study? Of course not. The point of this study was to show that by using drugs that increase muscle mass you can increase the quality of life of people with spinal cord injuries. In the case of Christopher Reeves and others suffering from SCIs, it may soon be an option to not only improve respiratory function but also as a strategy to retain muscle mass and integrity in paralyzed limbs while scientists scurry to find a cure.