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A prohormone is a substance that is a precursor to a hormone, usually having minimal hormonal effect by itself. The term has been used in medical science since the middle of the 20th century. Examples of natural, human prohormones include proinsulin and pro-opiomelanocortin.
Additional recommended knowledge
For peptide hormones, the conversion process from prohormone to hormone typically occurs after export to the endoplasmic reticulum and often requires multiple processing enzymes. For example, proinsulin is processed by PC 1/2, PC 3, and carboxypeptidase E to afford insulin. Proamylin, which is cosecreted with proinsulin, requires the above three factors and an amidating monoxygenase.
For small molecule hormones, the conversion is often one step, and is often used to regulate hormone levels.
Prohormones of anabolic steroids
In the last two decades, prohormones have also been used by bodybuilders, athletes, and nonmedical users of anabolic steroids and other hormones to refer to substances that are expected to convert to active hormones in the body. The intent is to provide the putative benefits of taking an anabolic steroid without the legal risks, and to achieve the hoped-for benefits or advantages without use of anabolic steroids themselves. Since prohormones are not listed as anabolic steroids themselves, they are legally classified as dietary supplements and not subject to the much tighter regulatory requirements of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) which apply to prescription hormones.
A typical prohormone is intended to be a precursor of an anabolic steroid like testosterone, which is taken in order to boost the body’s available hormone supply. These precursors are intended to be converted to full, active hormones via an enzymatic process that occurs during metabolism, typically resulting in the addition of whichever atoms happen to be missing from the chemical structure of the compound.
Prohormones are used mainly by athletes looking to increase size, strength, endurance, reduce recovery time or add lean body mass. They are most often used for increasing muscle mass or reducing body fat levels. Life extension groups are also increasingly using prohormones as a means of hormone replacement therapy, as an alternative to prescription drug use.
The use of prohormones has become popular among bodybuilders, since the effects can be similar (though normally much less drastic) to those achieved through the use of synthetic anabolic steroids, including gains in muscular strength and hypertrophy. There are currently many companies manufacturing prohormone products for this purpose.
Prohormones have the same side effects as anabolic steroids, and are defendant upon the user as to which side effects one might experience. Some side effects are acne, hair loss, breast tissue enlargement, and prostate swelling.
The potential for these side effects does exist, but it can be reduced if one uses proper precautionary measures (PCT). Generally, if a person is genetically predisposed to a side effect it will occur (i.e.: if someone has a history of male pattern baldness in the family, it could be assumed that this could be a side effect experienced if prohormones are used)
Prohormones are legally sold in most parts of the world and were classified in the United States by the FDA as dietary supplements because they consist of compounds that occur naturally in the human body; however their use remains quite controversial and side effects are not uncommon. To date, prohormone products have been banned in the United States, however, most have not been thoroughly studied, and the health effects of prolonged use are mostly unknown.
On October 22nd, 2004, President Bush signed into law the Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 2004 (118 Stat. 1661).  The bill was written to become effective in 90 days, which was January 20, 2005. This legislation places both anabolic steroids and prohormones on a list of controlled substances (a new type of "regulatory control").
Common types of prohormones on the market
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Prohormone". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|