Men who abuse or have abused anabolic androgenic steroids have lower insulin sensitivity and more visceral fat than controls, possibly mediated by long-term natriuretic peptide deficiency, according to study findings presented at the 52nd European Association for the Study of Diabetes Annual Meeting.
“Abuse of anabolic steroids has numerous adverse effects, including insulin sensitivity, which go beyond the side effects on the reproductive system,” Jon Rasmussen, MD, a PhD student at Herlev University Hospital in Copenhagen, Denmark, told Endocrine Today. “We, as physicians, have a poor understanding of these effects.”
In a cross-sectional, case-control study, Rasmussen and colleagues analyzed data from 100 men aged 18 to 50 years who were involved in recreational strength training and identified as current anabolic androgenic steroid misusers (n = 37; mean age, 31 years), former misusers (n = 33; mean age, 35 years) and age-matched controls who had never used anabolic androgenic steroids (n = 30; mean age, 32 years). All participants underwent a 120-minute oral glucose tolerance test after an overnight fast; plasma glucose and insulin levels were obtained at baseline and at 30, 60, 90 and 120 minutes. Researchers used the Matsuda index to calculate insulin sensitivity; participants underwent DXA scanning to measure body composition and abdominal fat distribution, divided into visceral adipose tissue (VAT) and subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT).
Men identified as current misusers and former misusers had a lower Matsuda index score reflecting impaired insulin sensitivity (mean Matsuda scores, 6.49 and 5.09, respectively) vs. controls (mean Matsuda score, 8.51).
Despite this, current misusers had a greater lean body mass vs. former misusers and controls (mean lean body mass, 25.4 kg/m² vs. 21.3 kg/m² and 21.9 kg/m², respectively), as well as greater body fat percentage vs. former misusers and controls (14.1% vs. 17.3% and 19.4%, respectively).
Both current and former anabolic steroid misusers had a higher VAT volume vs. controls (mean, 388 cm³ vs. 347 cm³ and 290 cm³, respectively); former misusers also had the highest SAT volume (mean, 962 cm³) vs. current misusers (mean, 546 cm³) and controls (mean, 738 cm³).
Analyses showed that VAT and SAT were inversely associated with Matsuda index score.
“None of the participants had diabetes, but more current and former abusers had impaired glucose tolerance, which indicates increased risk of developing diabetes,” Rasmussen said. “Longitudinal research on larger cohorts and basic science would be great to explore the clinical relevance of our findings and the exact mechanisms.” – by Regina Schaffer
Rasmussen J, et al. Poster #482. Presented at: 52nd EASD Annual Meeting; Sept. 12-16, 2016; Munich.
Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.