ANABOLIC AGENTS promote tissue growth by increasing metabolic processes involving protein synthesis. Most anabolic agents are androgens with a modified structure to enhance anabolic effects, and minimize others. Many have been produced. Stanozolol is a steroid which can be used to treat hereditary angio-oedema. Oxymetholone is used to treat aplastic anaemia. Nandrolone is similar to testosterone (though with far fewer masculinizing effects), and can be used to treat osteoporosis and aplastic anaemia. Some other agents with andbolic-androgenic steroid activity are danazol, fluoxymesterone, metandienone, methyltestosterone and oxandrolone.

Anabolic steroids are also used, usually illegally, by some athletes as an ergogenic aid (a technique or substance used for the purpose of enhancing performance). The doses used for these purposes are many times the therapeutic dose, and some products may be used that are licensed only as ‘growth-promoters’ in cattle rearing. The health risks are considerable and well documented.

A number of different agents are used as growth promoters, and use and licensing varies greatly between countries. In the USA, the Food and Drug Administration has allowed androsterone, estradiol, progesterone, trenbolone and zeranol to be registered.