Insulin Sensitivity and Anabolic Steroids: What's the Link?

Effect may be mediated by increased visceral adipose tissue as primary metabolically active fat tissue
Effect may be mediated by increased visceral adipose tissue as primary metabolically active fat tissue

HealthDay News — Use of anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS) may lead to insulin resistance, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes, held from September 12 to 16 in Munich.

A team of researchers led by Jon Rasmussen, MD, from Herlev University Hospital in Copenhagen, Denmark, investigated the effects of AAS use on visceral adipose tissue (VAT) and insulin sensitivity (IS) of 100 men who were 50 years old or younger, all involved in strength training. The researchers divided the men into three groups based on their use of AAS: 37 men were currently using the drugs, 33 were former users, and 30 never took them. The team assessed levels of IS using the Matsuda index, and conducted dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry scans to measure adipose tissue.

The researchers found that past and present AAS users had lower Matsuda index scores (reflecting impaired IS) compared to controls. Former AAS users had the highest subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT) volume, while men with current AAS misuse had the lowest volume. Current as well as past AAS users had greater VAT. Both VAT and SAT were inversely associated with Matsuda index score.

"The current data suggest that a history of AAS misuse leads to impaired IS, even several years after AAS cessation, compared with healthy controls who had never used AAS," the authors said in a news release from the European Association for the Study of Diabetes. "This effect could be mediated by increased VAT as the primary metabolically active fat tissue."

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