Contraceptive pills impair muscle gains in young women

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Oral contraceptive use impairs muscle gains in young women, and is associated with lower hormone levels, revealed by researchers.

The findings are contained in a new study entitled Oral Contraceptive Use Impairs Muscle Gains in Young Women.

The study was conducted by Chang-Woock Lee and Steven E. Riechman, Department of Health and Kinesiology, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX; and Mark A. Newman, Human Energy Research Laboratory, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA.

Seventy-three generally healthy women between the ages of 18-31 were assigned to two groups and completed a 10-week whole-body resistance exercise training (RET).

The researchers found that:

– there were significant differences in lean mass gains (OC: 2.1?2.1% vs. non-OC: 3.5?3.2% / OC: 1.0?1.0kg vs. no-OC: 1.6?1.4kg, p<0.05). However, other muscle responses such as strength gains and arm/leg circumferences were similar between the OC and non-OC users. - resting/fasting blood concentrations of the anabolic hormones were significantly lower in women taking OC vs. non-OC users throughout the study period. At the same time, plasma concentrations of cortisol (catabolic hormone) were elevated. - those OC users had reduced DHEA hormone at the end of the training period. By contrast, the other participants' levels did not change.According to the researchers, "We were surprised at the magnitude of differences in muscle gains between the two groups, with the non-OC women gaining more than 60% greater muscle mass than their OC counterpart." They added that even though the study has observed negative effects of oral contraceptive use on muscle gain in the context of resistance exercise training, "future studies are needed to help explain the reasons behind the results."The researchers will present their findings at the 122nd Annual Meeting of the American Physiological Society (APS), which is part of the Experimental Biology 2009 scientific conference. The meeting will be held April 18-22, 2009 in New Orleans.Source: American Physiological Society, USA

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