Anadrol (oxymetholone) is a synthetic steroid which belongs to the class of anabolic steroids. The anabolic steroids are synthetic derivatives of the male hormone known as testosterone. Anadrol is available in tablet, liquid and paper forms. Anadrol was developed to improve the health status of individuals affected with anaemia. The drug has numerous side-effects which makes it dangerous to consume in large quantities for a prolonged period of time.
Medicinal Use of Anadrol
Oxymetholone has been advised mainly for individuals suffering from anaemia. Anaemia is a disorder characterised by decreased production of red blood cells (RBCs) that mainly carry oxygen necessary for the various cells and tissues in the body. The production of RBCs is mainly dependent on a hormone known as erythropoietin. The administration of anadrol increases the production of this hormone and is therefore considered as beneficial in anaemic individuals.
It is also associated with increased excretion of erythropoietin which may be a beneficial factor while treating blood cancers associated with abnormal production of blood cells owing to increased levels of erythropoietin in the body. However, other regular treatments for correction of anaemia need to be considered before switching to anadrol.
Other purposes for which anadrol has been used include: treatment of excessive weight loss associated with certain disorders and an allergic condition characterised by non-pitting swelling of the skin which is neither associated with pain nor itching known as hereditary angioedema. However, these uses have not been approved in large scale studies.
Abuse of Anadrol in Bodybuilding and Sport
Anadrol has been used to prevent loss of muscle tissues in chronic disorders such as AIDS and other disorders. It was noted that the use of anadrol resulted in decrease in the muscle loss in individuals suffering from such disorders. However, the side-effects associated with prolonged use of anadrol have restricted its use for severe cases.
An increase in the abuse of anabolic androgenic steroids such as anadrol by bodybuilders has been reported in Western Europe and the USA since the 1990s. Body builders and other sports athletes’ overuse (abuse) this drug for its ability to build lean muscle mass and reduction in body fat. The steroids are commonly used as faster way of losing fat and gaining muscle mass across various sports.
Some of the bodybuilders even increase the dosage at abnormal levels to gain muscles at a much rapid rate. The dosage generally prescribed for medicinal purposes is about 1-5 mg/kg body weight per day which amounts to about 100-150mg per day in a normal adult individual. However, bodybuilders have been reported to consume about 400-600mg/day which increases the risk of side-effects to a large extent.
Abuse of anadrol is associated with a wide range of side-effects that affects the functioning of organs such as liver and heart along with other effects. The adverse effects on the liver due to increased use of anadrol are sometimes considered life-threatening.
Anadrol cycle refers to the use of anadrol in a regular manner by bodybuilders to build muscle mass. The bodybuilders usually consume anadrol tablets once to thrice daily for a certain period of time while building the muscle mass in their body. Although anadrol increases lean muscle mass initially, the effects do not keep increasing after a certain limit. Increasing the dosage of anadrol subsequently increases its side-effects that have harmful effects on the body.
Side Effects of Anadrol
Abuse of anadrol is associated with a long list of side-effects. The increased incidence of side-effects associated with its use has restricted the use of anadrol in the medical field. Anadrol is usually considered as the last line of treatment wherein it is advised only if the regular treatment modalities have failed to resolve the condition being treated.
Abusers of anadrol have an increased risk of being affected by the side-effects owing to the fact that they consume anadrol at very high doses.
Effect on Liver
The most common and potent side-effect that can be life threatening at times is the effect of anadrol on the liver. Excessive use of anadrol results in a condition known as peliosis hepatis which is characterised by formation of cysts (fluid filled cavities) in the liver and at times also in the spleen. These cysts may result in liver failure that is considered life threatening. Although withdrawal of anadrol results in complete reversal of symptoms, the liver failure generally remains asymptomatic until it reaches the life-threatening stage. Increased incidence of liver tumours has also been associated with anadrol abuse.
Effect on Heart
The risk of heart related disorders such as atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease is increased in case of anadrol abusers. The levels of ‘good’ (HDL) cholesterol tend to decrease while that of ‘bad’ (LDL) cholesterol tends to increase further adding to the problem.
In case of men, increased consumption of anadrol is associated with decreased functioning of the testicles, reduction in the sperm count, impotence, bladder irritation and decrease in the seminal fluid volume. While in women, it results in clitoral enlargement and irregularities in the menstrual cycles. In general the libido is decreased in both men and women.
In men, prolonged use of anadrol can result in abnormal enlargement of the breast tissues (gynecomastia). In case of women, it leads to deepening of the voice and occurrence of selective baldness (referred to as male-pattern baldness).
The drug also decreases sleep and increases excitability in abusers. Frequent complaints of vomiting sensation and diarrhoea have also been observed.
Effects in Children
The bone growth in children who consume anadrol becomes restricted which leads to decreased height in them. Decreased sexual development is also noticed in children who take anadrol tablets.