Selective androgen receptor modulator or SARM for short is quite a hot topic these days; thanks to athletic figures mostly bodybuilders who want to increase their muscle bulk. So, what are SARMs?

Here’s a little bit of a background on why SARMs were developed. Through the years, there have been diseases that require the intake of steroids to increase skeletal muscle mass and maximal voluntary strength. This is mostespecially true among older men and women as they lose skeletal muscle mass, strength and power and in men with many chronic disorders as they age– increasing the risk of falls, fractures, mobility limitation, physical disability and poor quality of life. Thus, there is a need for a drug that can improve physical function and reduce the burden of disability and the answer to that it steroids. Steroids increase skeletal muscle mass and strength but with many associated side effects. For years, researches were done to develop steroids or steroid-like drugs to treat diseases that are currently being treated with anabolic-androgenic steroids that aren’t as detrimental to people’s health and well-being. So far, SARMs are the product of those research initiatives.

SARMs are a unique class of androgen receptor molecules that bind and display tissue-selective activation of androgenic signaling. Androgens,are hormones responsible for producing masculinity in an individual. The most well known androgen, testosterone, is the major ligand for androgen receptor. The body produces testosterone to maintain sexual function and germ cell development. It also affects the skeletal muscle, fat, bone, red blood cell production, blood clotting factors, lipid, protein and carbohydrate metabolism, as well as the person’s psychosexual and cognitive behaviors.When SARMs bind to the receptor they have the potential anabolic and hypertrophic effects on the skeletal muscle and bone, just like testosterone. Thus, SARMs are a synthetic drug that mimics many of the effects of testosterone in muscle and bone tissue, while having a minimal impact on other organs. In addition, SARMs function like steroids but without the unwanted side effects, especially a compound like SR 9009. This makes them ideal candidates for testosterone replacement therapy, osteoporosis treatment and muscle wasting treatment.

Structurally, SARMs can be categorized into steroidal and nonsteroidal SARMs. The steroidal SARMs are formed by modifying the chemical structure of the testosterone molecule.

SARMs work in two ways: 1)As their name implies, selective androgen receptor– they have a special affinity for certain tissues like muscle and bone, but not for others, like the prostate, liver, and brain and 2) they’re not easily broken down into an enzyme called 5-alpha-reductase, which converts testosterone into dihydrotestosterone, the one responsible for the many unwanted side effects of steroid use.SARMs areless powerful than regular steroids, so they don’t suppress natural testosterone production as heavily, so it’s easier to recover from once you stop using. But they are also quite effective in increasing skeletal muscle mass.

SARMs were intended to be a healthier alternative to testosterone replacement therapy. However, it has found its way to the athletic world. Additional good reason why SARMs are popular with athletes: they do not show up positive in drug testing. For bodybuilders, SARMs provide the benefits of traditional anabolic-androgenic steroids– providing more muscle, less fat, and better bone density – while producing significantly fewer unwanted reversible side effects such as testicular atrophy (shrinking), acne, cysts, oily hair and skin, elevated blood pressure and “bad” cholesterol, increased aggression, and lowered sperm count and irreversible damage such as male-pattern baldness and gynecomastia (breast development in males).Another major downside to steroids is the risk of biological and psychological dependence. Research studies have shown that 30% of steroid users are dependent. So far, this does not hold true on using SARMs.

SARMs are quite new breakthroughs. More human researches are needed to ensure its safety and efficacy. Their potential long-term side effects are still unknown, which is a very legitimate cause for concern.

Some studies in mice have shown that SARMs can increase intestinal cancers but how true it may hold in humans is still unknown. There are also promising studies, which shows that SARMs may actually inhibit certain kinds of cancer.However, most of these studies are done on animal models. The research reults are still inconclusive. More researches on human models should be done.