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Study Finds Combining Exercise With Male Hormone Therapy Benefits Men With HIV-Wasting Disease

Men who suffer from HIV-wasting syndrome can benefit significantly from a combination of exercise and regular, moderate doses of male hormones, according to a new clinical study led by a University of California San Francisco researcher.

The study team found the combined therapy produced an increase in lean-body mass and muscle strength, regardless of whether a patient was undergoing treatment with HIV anti-retroviral drugs known as protease inhibitors.

"This is an important point because weight gain after initiation of protease inhibitor therapy usually takes place through the accumulation of body fat, but our goal in patients with HIV-related weight loss is to build-up the lean tissue," said lead study investigator Marc Hellerstein, MD, PhD, UCSF associate professor of medicine who treats patients at San Francisco General Hospital Medical Center.

The other key finding is that only a small amount of male hormones--or androgens--was necessary to produce positive results. "Much larger doses of androgens are often used by body-builders to develop muscular tissues, but such amounts have unproven long-term safety," said Hellerstein, who also is an associate professor of nutritional sciences at UC Berkeley.

Research results are reported in the current issue (April 14) of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

There were 22 study patients. All participants took part in a weight-lifting exercise regimen that was supervised by a trainer and received the male hormone, testosterone, by injection.

In addition, one group of 11 patients received oxandrolone, a synthetic hormonal agent belonging to the class of androgens called anabolic steroids. Another 11 patients received a placebo, an inactive substance used as a comparison.

The study was "double-blind," so during the course of the research neither patients nor research staff knew which product was being administered. Both placebo and oxandrolone we
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Contact: Corinna Kaarlela
ckaarlela@pubaff.ucsf.edu
415-476-3804
University of California - San Francisco
14-Apr-1999


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