Operation Supplement Safety: What's the Harm with SARMs?

What are SARMs?

Short for selective androgen receptor modulators, SARMs are synthetic drugs designed to have effects similar to those of testosterone. SARMs are still in the research and testing stages for various medical conditions but have not been approved yet for any other use. Despite that, SARMs are readily available online and often marketed to bodybuilders as “legal steroids” or “steroid alternatives” or for “research only.”

Are SARMs safe and legal?

Although SARMs sometimes are sold in products marketed as dietary supplements, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has stated they are not dietary supplements and are unapproved by FDA for human use. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) prohibit SARMs for use in sport.

If you have purchased or considered using SARMs, including dietary supplement products labeled as containing a SARM (that is, with one or more SARMs on the Supplement Facts label) or products marketed for research purposes only (and not for human consumption), think again! OPSS strongly advises against using such products, because they pose significant health and readiness risks. Ostarine and similar SARMs also might cause positive results if you are tested for steroids. Importantly, use of SARMs might interfere with the natural release of your own testosterone.

Look out for these ingredients

Some of the ingredient names to watch out for on dietary supplement product labels and websites include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Andarine (S4)
  • Enobosarm (Ostarine, MK-2866)
  • Ligandrol (LGD-4033)
  • RAD140 (Testolone)
  • S-22
  • S-23

Watch out for other experimental drugs – such as Cardarine/GW-50151, Ibutamoren/MK-677, and YK11 – that sometimes are marketed as SARMs; they are not SARMs and are illegal for any use other than research.

Operation Supplement Safety is a DoD-wide program under the Consortium for Health and Military Performance (CHAMP) at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences and has provided the following information.

For questions about dietary supplements, Ask the Expert.

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