Plenty of men are turning toward SARMs in hopes of achieving a leaner, more muscular look.

But what exactly are the bodybuilding pills? Well, for starters, SARMs stand for “selective androgen receptive modulators” and they’re widely being sold on the Internet as an alternative to steroids, as Dr. Thomas O’Connor explains.

“SARMS are supposed to be an alternative [to steroids] and without the side effects of anabolic steroids,” says O’Connor, aka the “Anabolic Doc,” who is renowned for his work with patients looking for recovery from anabolic-steroid use. “But in theory, they have the same muscle-building properties of anabolic steroids.”

That being said, does O’Connor deem SARMs safe?

“No, my God no. Of course, they’re not safe,” he says without any hesitation. “They need to be studied further.”

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Along the latter lines, O’Connor points to a study done by his colleague, Dr. Shalender Bhasin, who is the Brigham and Women’s Hospital (Boston) men’s health research program director.

Bhasin’s study revealed that: “In this limited investigation involving chemical analyses of 44 products marketed as selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs) and sold via the internet, most products contained unapproved drugs and substances. Only 52 percent contained selective androgen receptor modulators and many were inaccurately labeled.”

O’Connor likens that to purchasing blood pressure medicine, for example, that isn’t regulated.

“Chances are, you’re not going to get what you think you’re getting,” he explains.

“The problem with SARMS,” he added, “is a problem with getting something that’s not regulated.”

And taking something that isn’t regulated could be harmful. Bhasin told the New York Times this past April that “we don’t know whether these compounds are safe, but we do know that some of them have side effects.”

Last October, the FDA warned against the use of SARMS, stating: “Life threatening reactions, including liver toxicity, have occurred in people taking products containing SARMs. SARMs also have the potential to increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, and the long-term effects on the body are unknown.”

That “unknown” factor is precisely why O’Connor implores men, who are looking to bulk up, to pass on SARMs right now and in the foreseeable future.

“You have to give it more time because otherwise you’re buying something from an unknown source,” he said. “I can’t recommend any medicine that’s not a legitimate medicine. We have to tell people, you have to sit by the sidelines [on SARMs]. We need to do more research. It will take another 10 years.”

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