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The following conditions have been reported in patients receiving androgenic anabolic steroids as a general class of drugs:
Peliosis hepatis, a condition in which liver and sometimes splenic tissue is replaced with blood-filled cysts, has been reported in patients receiving androgenic anabolic steroid therapy. These cysts are sometimes present with minimal hepatic dysfunction, but at other times they have been associated with liver failure. They are often not recognized until life-threatening liver failure or intra-abdominal hemorrhage develops. Withdrawal of drug usually results in complete disappearance of lesions.
Liver cell tumors are also reported. Most often these tumors are benign and androgen-dependent, but fatal malignant tumors have been reported. Withdrawal of drug often results in regression or cessation of progression of the tumor. However, hepatic tumors associated with androgens or anabolic steroids are much more vascular than other hepatic tumors and may be silent until life-threatening intra-abdominal hemorrhage develops.
Blood lipid changes that are known to be associated with increased risk of atherosclerosis are seen in patients treated with androgens and anabolic steroids. These changes include decreased high density lipoprotein and sometimes increased low density lipoprotein. The changes may be very marked and could have a serious impact on the risk of atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease.
Cholestatic hepatitis and jaundice occur with 17-alpha-alkylated androgens at relatively low doses. Clinical jaundice may be painless, with or without pruritus. It may also be associated with acute hepatic enlargement and right upper-quadrant pain, which has been mistaken for acute (surgical) obstruction of the bile duct. Drug-induced jaundice is usually reversible when the medication is discontinued. Continued therapy has been associated with hepatic coma and death. Because of the hepatoxicity associated with oxymetholone administration, periodic liver function tests are recommended.
Edema with or without congestive heart failure may be a serious complication in patients with pre-existing cardiac, renal or hepatic disease. Concomitant administration with adrenal steroids or ACTH may add to the edema. This is generally controllable with appropriate diuretic and/or digitalis therapy.
Anabolic steroids have not been shown to enhance athletic ability.
Women should be observed for signs of virilization (deepening of the voice, hirsutism, acne and clitoromegaly). To prevent irreversible change, drug therapy must be discontinued when mild virilism is first detected. Such virilization is usual following androgenic anabolic steroid use at high doses. Some virilizing changes in women are irreversible even after prompt discontinuance of therapy and are not prevented by concomitant use of estrogens. Menstrual irregularities, including amenorrhea, may also occur.
Anabolic steroids may cause suppression of clotting factors II, V, VII and X, and an increase in prothrombin time.
Because of the hepatoxicity associated with the use of 17-alpha-alkylated androgens, liver function tests should be obtained periodically.
Periodic (every 6 months) x-ray examinations of bone age should be made during treatment of prepubertal patients to determine the rate of bone maturation and the effects of androgenic anabolic steroid therapy on the epiphyseal centers.
Anabolic steroids have been reported to lower the level of high-density lipoproteins and raise the level of low-density lipoproteins. These changes usually revert to normal on discontinuation of treatment. Increased low-density lipoproteins and decreased high-density lipoproteins are considered cardiovascular risk factors. Serum lipids and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol should be determined periodically.
Because iron deficiency anemia has been observed in some patients treated with oxymetholone, periodic determination of the serum iron and iron binding capacity is recommended. If iron deficiency is detected, it should be appropriately treated with supplementary iron.
Oxymetholone has been shown to decrease 17-ketosteroid excretion.
Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment of Fertility
A two-year carcinogenicity study in rats given oxymetholone orally was conducted under the auspices of the US National Toxicology Program (NTP). A wide spectrum of neoplastic and non-neoplastic effects was observed. In male rats, no effects were classified as neoplastic in response to doses up to 150 mg/kg/day (5 times therapeutic exposures with 5 mg/kg based on body surface area). Female rats given 30 mg/kg/day (1 fold the maximum recommended clinical dose of 5 mg/kg/day based on the body surface area) had increased incidences of lung alveolar/bronchiolar adenoma and adenoma or carcinoma combined. At 100 mg/kg/day (about 3 fold the maximum recommended clinical dose of 5 mg/kg/day based on BSA), female rats had increased incidences of hepatocellular adenoma and adenoma or carcinoma combined; the combined incidence of squamous cell carcinoma and carcinoma of the sweat glands also was increased.
Human data: There are rare reports of hepatocellular carcinoma in patients receiving long-term therapy with androgens in high doses. Withdrawal of the drugs did not lead to regression of the tumors in all cases.
Geriatric patients treated with androgens may be at an increased risk of developing prostatic hypertrophy and prostatic carcinoma although conclusive evidence to support this concept is lacking.
In studies conducted under the auspices of the US National Toxicology Program, no evidence of genotoxicity was found using standard assays for mutagenicity, chromosomal aberrations, or induction of micronuclei in erythrocytes.
Impairment of fertility was not tested directly in animal species. However, as noted below under ADVERSE REACTIONS, oligospermia in males and amenorrhea in females are potential adverse effects of treatment with ANADROL Tablets. Therefore, impairment of fertility is a possible outcome of treatment with ANADROL Tablets.
Pregnancy category X (see CONTRAINDICATIONS).
It is not known whether anabolics are excreted in human milk. Because of the potential for serious adverse reactions in nursed infants from anabolics, women who take oxymetholone should not nurse.
Anabolic/androgenic steroids should be used very cautiously in children and only by specialists who are aware of their effects on bone maturation.
Anabolic agents may accelerate epiphyseal maturation more rapidly than linear growth in children, and the effect may continue for 6 months after the drug has been stopped. Therefore, therapy should be monitored by x-ray studies at 6-month intervals in order to avoid the risk of compromising the adult height.
Clinical studies of ANADROL Tablets did not include sufficient numbers of subjects aged 65 and over to determine whether they respond differently from younger subjects. Other reported clinical experience has not identified differences in responses between the elderly and younger patients. In general, dose selection for an elderly patient should be cautious, usually starting at the low end of the dosing range, reflecting the greater frequency of decreased hepatic, renal, or cardiac function, and of concomitant disease or other drug therapy.This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.
Last reviewed on RxList: 5/2/2008
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