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What is androstenedione?


Androstenedione is a dietary supplement promoted to increase levels of the hormone testosterone. The FDA no longer allows androstenedione to be marketed as a dietary supplement in the United States due to safety issues, and it is banned from use at most amateur and professional athletic events.

Androstenedione side effects

Information about possible side effects and risks of androstenedione is very limited. However, aggressive behavior, mood swings and bad moods are commonly reported side effects of androstenedione. In addition, androstenedione has been reported to cause hair loss, headache, blurred vision, acne, enlarged breasts, shrunken testicles, growth retardation in adolescents, and rarely, liver cancer. A recent study raised concerns about androstenedione because levels of HDL cholesterol dropped in men who took the supplement for eight weeks. Since HDL is the "good" form of cholesterol that protects against heart problems, lowering HDL can increase people's risk of heart disease. The safety of androstenedione for longer-term use is not known.

Recent studies show that the drug's actions don't support manufacturer's claims. While a few individuals have shown increased levels of testosterone, most failed to achieve increases in blood testosterone levels. Initial medical research has raised concerns about this supplement's safety. Doctors worry that androstenedione may increase the risk of heart disease or liver cancer. In addition, research also associates androstenedione use with increases in estradiol, a female estrogen.

Read an article about testosterone in our Health Encyclopedia.

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