Astronauts may be required to go on a cycle of anabolic steroids to build extra muscle prior to space travel.
Anabolic steroids may be demonized for giving competitive athletes an “unfair” advantage but they may soon be glorified as one of the best tools to combat muscle loss in astronauts. And steroids won’t just be limited to NASA-trained astronauts. Civilian space travelers could also be given steroids before departure.
Researchers affiliated with The University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) in Galveston have suggested that pharmaceutical strategies such as anabolic steroids and other hormonal interventions could very well be the best way to minimize muscle atrophy in zero gravity conditions.
Anabolic steroids could be the answer to preserving muscle mass for space travelers.
Randall Urban, the chief research officer for UTMB, investigated the effects of pharmaceutical interventions on the long-term effects of muscle inactivity in a recent study published in PLUS One.
The study monitored muscle atrophy in 24 healthy males who were put on 70 days of bed rest. Both groups were placed on an exercise regimen. However, one group was given “testosterone supplementation” and another group was given a placebo.
The exercise regimen helped counteract much of the muscle atrophy association with bed rest. But the group that received testosterone supplementation experienced dramatic effects above and beyond that of exercise alone.
Melinda Sheffield-Moore, a professor in the UTMB department of internal medicine who served as the senior author, suggested that that customized exercise programs combined steroid stacks could be deployed for astronauts prior to leaving Earth on a space mission.
“This new ability may allow scientists to personalize space medicine by designing specific exercise and/or hormone intervention programs for each astronaut on Earth before they embark on a long-term mission to space,” Sheffield-Moore said.
Personalized steroid stacks could be fine-tuned specifically for space travelers. Scientists should have no problem coming up with effective steroid stacks. After all, athletes and bodybuilders have been experimenting with anabolic steroids (and other pharmaceuticals) for over 50 years with the explicit goal of increasing muscle mass above and beyond what is possible with exercise alone.
UTMB. (July 14, 2019). UTMB researchers learned how to better combat muscle loss during space flights. Retrieved from tmc.edu/news/2019/06/utmb-researchers-learned-how-to-better-combat-muscle-loss-during-space-flights/