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Medical Uses for Nandrolone Decanoate

author image Dr. Tina M. St. John
Tina M. St. John runs a health communications and consulting firm. She is also an author and editor, and was formerly a senior medical officer with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. St. John holds an M.D. from Emory University School of Medicine.
Medical Uses for Nandrolone Decanoate
Man just finished receiving shot from doctor. Photo Credit: Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Nandrolone decanoate is a man-made steroid hormone with a physical structure similar to the male sex hormone testosterone. The drug is administered as a deep intramuscular injection. After absorption into the bloodstream, the drug travels to the muscles and other body tissues, exerting testosterone-like effects. Due to serious and potentially life-threatening side effects, the medical uses for nandrolone decanoate prove limited.

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Anemia of Renal Insufficiency

The kidneys normally produce the hormone erythropoietin, which stimulates the production of red blood cells in the bone marrow. People with chronic kidney disease often experience anemia, or a low red blood cell count, caused by inadequate production of erythropoietin. Therapy with nandrolone decanoate may help alleviate this condition, known as anemia of renal insufficiency.

Nandrolone decanoate may stimulate the production of erythropoietin, leading to increased red blood cell production, explains the National Cancer Institute. In an October 2005 article published in the "European Journal of Clinical Investigation," Drs. Robert Deicher and Walter Hörl report that use of nandrolone decanoate proves beneficial for some male patients with anemia of renal insufficiency. The authors, however, advise against using the drug for female patients due to side effects. Among female patients, nandrolone decanoate may cause masculinizing side effects, such as increased body hair, disruption of the menstrual cycle, deepening of the voice and male-pattern hair loss.

Treatment of anemia of renal insufficiency is the only U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved use of nandrolone decanoate, according to the National Library of Medicine pharmaceutical information website DailyMed.

HIV-Associated Wasting

Patients with advanced HIV/AIDS may experience significant weight loss, including loss of muscle mass. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention includes this condition, known as HIV-associated wasting, as evidence of HIV disease progression to AIDS. Doctors sometimes prescribe nandrolone decanoate to help arrest or partially reverse HIV-associated wasting. Kathleen Mulligan, Ph.D., and Dr. Morris Schambelan of the University of California, San Francisco report on the website HIV InSite that nandrolone decanoate may help patients with HIV-associated wasting gain body weight and muscle mass. These beneficial effects prove most pronounced in patients participating in an exercise program while taking nandrolone decanoate.

Liver Side Effects

Nandrolone decanoate may cause serious side effects in the liver. The FDA-approved prescribing information warns that a condition known as peliosis hepatis may develop with use of nandrolone decanoate. Blood-filled cysts develop throughout the liver with peliosis hepatis. The cysts may rupture, causing severe and potentially life-threatening internal bleeding, reports "The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals." Although uncommon, patients with peliosis hepatis may develop liver failure.

Use of nandrolone decanoate may also trigger the formation of noncancerous or cancer liver tumors, reports DailyMed. The tumors may rupture, leading to potentially life-threatening internal bleeding. Discontinuation of the drug often leads to shrinkage of the tumors, notes DailyMed.

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