You may have heard of Nolvadex by its chemical name, Tamoxifen. You may also know that Tamoxifen is an oral drug treatment for women with breast cancer. What then, you might wonder, has Nolvadex got to do with bodybuilders and steroids?
A lot of steroids actually convert to estrogen, which is a female sex hormone. When this happens in a man, the effects of estrogen on male breast tissue can be of a growth nature. Yes, man-boobs can be the result of steroid abuse.
Nolvadex/tamoxifen is used by many bodybuilders to prevent the growth of man-boobs. This leads many people to assume incorrectly that Tamoxifen is an anti-estrogen drug, i.e. that it somehow destroys the hormone. In fact, it binds with the estrogen receptors in the breast tissue and blocks the actual estrogen from binding with them itself.
So, in a nutshell, it’s used to prevent the estrogenic side effect known as Gynecomastia. Please continue reading for a more in-depth analysis of Nolvadex (Tamoxifen).
What Is Nolvadex?
Nolvadex is the most commonly known brand name for the prescription drug Tamoxifen, which is itself a type of selective estrogen-receptor modulator – or SERM.
As complicated as that sounds, the most common reason that it is prescribed to patients is to inhibit the growth of mammary (breast) tissue. It’s most valuable medical application is as a first line treatment for breast cancer, or the prevention of it in high risk patients.
As stated, SERMs are a type of prescription medication, therefore their use for anything other than their prescribed purpose by a Doctor is technically illegal.
How Do SERMs Work?
Certain breast cancers are dependent on estrogen to thrive. The tumour cells require estrogen to grow and as such they have receptor cells on them specifically for estrogen to bind to and activate the growth sequence.
Tamoxifen, via one of its metabolites, actually binds to those estrogen receptor sites but does not activate them. Figuratively speaking, its as though the receptor sites are locks and the estrogen and tamoxifen are keys. Only the tamoxifen key doesn’t turn; it just sits in the lock, blocking any other key, including estrogen, from being entered into it.
Men can actually contract breast cancer as well as women. Tamoxifen is also the primary form of hormone treatment for men with this type of cancer.
Nolvadex (Tamoxifen) and Gynecomastia
Gynecomastia is perhaps a more common problem in men than breast cancer. Although it is still estrogen related, Gynecomastia generally involves the growth of benign (non-dangerous) breast tissue.
For this reason, Tamoxifen holds an important place in the steroid cycle bodybuilders use. Some steroids aromatize (convert) to estrogen. Testosterone, the main male sex hormone actually does this naturally in our body, hence why Gynecomastia can still occur in men who do not use steroids.
The aromatization process is heightened with steroid use, meaning it is much more likely – is in fact almost inevitable – that bodybuilders who use such drugs will experience some degree of Gynecomastia. It is necessary for them to incorporate drugs such as Nolvadex to limit the effects. Underground steroid dealers will carry these drugs and sell them to their clients along with the main anabolics.
Negative Side Effects
This drug is used for many conditions and its benefits are widely documented. There are a couple of negative side effects that have been reported in Tamoxifen-treated patients.
- Blood clots and Deep Vein Thrombosis
- Lymphedema: localized tissue swelling and fluid retention, in this case caused by the blood clots and DVT
- Reduced cognitive function and memory
Tamoxifen, Novaldex or anything else this drug is known by, is used by bodybuilders specifically for the purpose of reducing estrogen related Gynecomastia. It’s a very proven and effective means of doing this.
The main issue is still one of legality. Whether someone buys this along with their steroids on the black market, or acquires it any other way, it’s a prescription-only drug. To get a prescription, the symptoms would already have to have taken hold which for bodybuilders is entirely too late as it should be taken during the steroid cycle and not afterwards.
The legality is anyway a moot point considering the user has already purchased the illegal steroids which have necessitated the tamoxifen. If you would like to learn more about steroids, click here to start with Testosterone and go from there.
Furthermore you can read about the other main post cycle therapy drug HCG, which is used to combat testicular atrophy (shrunken balls).