Anabolic Steroids in the Treatment of Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a skeletal disease in which the bone mass is low and the bone tissue is degenerating. Over time, the bone becomes more and more fragile and gains an increased tendency to fracture. It is one of the most common bone diseases in the US, with more than 25 million people affected.
Every year, osteoporosis is responsible for causing 1.3 million fractures in various parts of the patients’ body like spine, hip, and wrist. The most serious of these is hip fracture. About 5 to 20% of osteoporosis patients with hip fracture die within a year, and 50% others become incapacitated.
The term osteoporosis means “porous bones.” The skeleton is made up of a thick outer covering and a strong inner lattice comprised mainly of collagen, calcium, and other minerals. This inner lattice looks somewhat like a honeycomb. The spaces between them are filled with blood vessels and bone marrow.
When these spaces become bigger, osteoporosis occurs. Bigger spaces between the bones cause the bones to be fragile and to break easily. Osteoporosis is a condition affecting the whole skeleton, although the most common effects are fractures in the hip, spine, and hip.
The elderly face greater risk of developing osteoporosis, and consequently, the chances of having the disease increase with age. Osteoporosis in patients also tends to worsen with age. The incidence of fractures due to osteoporosis is expected to increase in the next 60 years.
This disease is caused by a number of factors, the first one being hormone deficiency. Women in particular are more prone to osteoporosis than men because bone loss in women becomes accelerated 5 years after menopause. Other factors that are known to cause or increase the chances of developing this skeletal disease include low calcium intake, having a sedentary lifestyle, drinking too much alcohol, and smoking.
One of the treatments being done for osteoporosis is the use of anabolic steroids. These have been found to help patients, specially the very elderly ones, who are experiencing bone loss at a rapid rate.
Anabolic steroids are more popularly known as the substances that are used to enhance body building and muscle gain. These substances are also being used widely in medicine, and treatment for osteoporosis is one of its important applications. Anabolic steroids have been shown to stimulate the formation of new bone, to increase the absorption of calcium, and to provide relief from spinal fracture pain.
According to studies, administration of anabolic steroids to osteoporosis patients resulted in an increase in bone mass in both men and women. Another advantage of using steroids is that the patients’ fat tissue gets converted into muscles, which helps to strengthen the body.
About 3% of bone mass is gained every year as a result of anabolic steroid administration, with the maximum effect being observed during the first months of treatment. This gain in bone mass is attributed to the anabolic steroid’s ability to stimulate bone formation and to promote muscle tissue growth over fat tissue growth. Anabolic steroids have also been shown to increase the absorption of calcium in the body by activating vitamin D.