Men over age 60 who took the androgen oxandrolone daily for 12 weeks had significantly stronger muscles in their upper and lower body than men who took a placebo, according to E. Todd Schroeder, Ph.D., postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and lead author of the study.
The findings suggest that supplemental androgen therapy might benefit older men who are prone to losing muscle mass-a process known as sarcopenia-as they age. Loss of leg power may interfere with basic activities, such as rising from a chair or walking up stairs. That, in turn, can lead to immobility, eroding independence and depression.
"Our findings are encouraging because a short course of treatment appears to increase muscle mass, strength and power, which can be augmented or maintained with subsequent resistance exercise," Schroeder says. "We are in the process of testing how well such effects are maintained following treatment and to what degree additional exercise improves these changes."
The challenges of maintaining the day-to-day health of seniors are mounting as fast as the nation is aging. By the year 2030, the number of people older than 65 will climb to 70 million in the U.S. alone.
Schroeder's research aims to preserve the quality of life for many of these older men and women.
In his study, researchers monitored 32 men between 60 and 87 years old. About two-thirds of them were chosen at random to take 20 milligrams daily of oxandrolone, known by the trade name Oxandrin, while the rest took a placebo.
He and his colleagues measured the men's muscle strength weekly by testing the maximum weight the men could lif
Contact: Jon Weiner
University of Southern California