Oral andro-related prohormone supplementation: do the potential risks outweigh the benefits?

Can J Appl Physiol. 2003 Feb;28(1):102-16. doi: 10.1139/h03-009.


Androstenedione, 4-androstenediol, 5-androstenediol, 19-norandrostenediol and 19-norandrostenedione are commonly referred to as "Andro" prohormones. Over the last few years, supplementation using these prohormones has been aggressively marketed to the general public. Supplement manufacturers often claim that Andro use improves serum testosterone concentrations, increases muscular strength and muscle mass, helps to reduce body fatness, enhances mood, and improves sexual performance. However, to date, most studies contradict these claims. In contrast, several studies using oral Andro related prohormones show that Andro use can abnormally elevate estrogen related hormones as well as alterations in hormonal markers (i.e., abnormal elevations in serum estrogen) thought to increase a person's risk for developing prostate or pancreatic cancers. In addition, most studies also indicate that significant declines in high-density lipoproteins occur leading to an increased cardiovascular disease risk. Thus, to date, the current research base suggests that Andro prohormone use does not support manufacturer claims. But it does suggest there should be strong concerns regarding long-term oral Andro prohormone use, especially regarding its effects on blood lipids and estrogen hormone profiles.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Androstenediol / pharmacology
  • Androstenediols / adverse effects
  • Androstenediols / pharmacology*
  • Androstenedione / adverse effects
  • Androstenedione / analogs & derivatives*
  • Androstenedione / pharmacology*
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Estrogens / blood
  • Humans
  • Lipoproteins, HDL / drug effects
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / drug effects
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / chemically induced
  • Risk Factors
  • Sexual Behavior / drug effects
  • Testosterone / blood


  • Androstenediols
  • Estrogens
  • Lipoproteins, HDL
  • Testosterone
  • Androstenedione
  • Androstenediol
  • 19-norandrostenedione