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Dangerous body-building pills ‘which cause infertility, heart attacks and strokes’ are being sold for just 25p a pill on eBay and Depop

  • MailOnline found SARMs available for as little as 25p per pill on the marketplaces
  • Experimental drugs are popular in underground bodybuilding and fitness scene 
  • They work like steroids but have not been fully tested for safety on humans

Prohibited performance-enhancing drugs linked to heart attacks, strokes and even infertility are being sold on eBay and Depop, MailOnline can reveal.

Selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs) are available for as little as 25p per pill on the online marketplaces used by children as young as 13. The drugs have been popular in the underground bodybuilding scene for several years.

They work like steroids but have not been fully tested for safety on humans, are not prescribed by doctors, and prohibited by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

Legally, pill called soma SARMs can be sold in the UK due to a loophole — despite calls for them to be banned. 

MailOnline found two listings for Rad-140, one of the most powerful SARMS on the market, with sellers based in Oxford and Glasgow.

Prices ranged from between £15-£40 for 60 capsules — although the cheaper seller admitted the tub had been opened and two pills were missing.

Experts urged people not to buy SARMs, warning life-threatening complications can occur ‘within a fortnight’ of use. Unsealed products could also be contaminated with other, even more dangerous, substances, they said.

MailOnline found one listing for Rad-140, one of the most powerful SARMS on the market, on Depop, which is popular among teens as young as 13. The seller says they are based in Oxford

The seller admitted the tub had been opened and two pills were missing, hence the cheap £15 price tag

Another listing for Rad-140 was also found on eBay, with the seller based in Glasgow. The listing claims there were nine tubs of Nordic Labs Rad-140 available at £39.99 each

SARMs are man-made chemicals that look like testosterone to the body and bind to receptors responsible for muscle growth.

They were designed for people with muscle-wasting diseases and to be less toxic than steroids.

But the experimental drugs still carry significant risk, according to Dr Klaus Witte, a consultant cardiologist at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.

‘They can cause adverse changes on cholesterol levels and liver function,’ he told MailOnline.

WHAT ARE SARMS?

SARMs are man-made chemicals that look like testosterone to the body and bind to receptors responsible for muscle growth.

They were designed for people with muscle-wasting diseases and to be less toxic than steroids.

How do they work? 

Like steroids, SARMs bind to the androgen receptors, causing changes to DNA which allow muscles to grow bigger and quicker.

Steroids are a blunt tool that also impact other parts of the body, leading to side effects such as prostate issues, liver damage, hair loss and acne. 

SARMs were designed to be ’tissue selective’ – targeting the muscles without setting off this same chain of reactions.

But similar issues have also been seen in SARMs users.

What are the side effects? 

They cause significant hormonal imbalances in men and women – particularly at high doses.

In men, they shut down the body’s natural production of testosterone when they come off the drugs, which can shrink their testicles, crash their sex drive, trigger mental health problems and even make them infertile.

While taking SARMS, women will experience virilisation – the process of physically turning into a man – which causes them to grow facial hair and develop a deep voice.

SARMs are also extremely toxic to the body. 

Because they are taken orally in pill form, rather than injected like most steroids, they have to be processed by the digestive system and the liver.

The liver responds by overproducing certain enzymes that can leak into the blood stream and cause inflammation, which leads to heart, blood pressure and other organ damage issues. 

Are SARMs legal?

Yes, in the US and UK SARMs are currently legal to buy due to a loophole. 

They can be bought and sold as ‘research chemicals’ but are not allowed to be used in people.

Many products rely on legal disclaimers to get round the law, warning customers: ‘Under no circumstances are these products sold for human consumption’.

They are not allowed to be marketed as supplements.

‘They have been associated with an increased risk of heart attack and stroke and acute liver injury and acute heart muscle inflammation known as myocarditis.

‘In some cases simply taking a SARM for two weeks can cause acute liver injury with jaundice, vomiting and abdominal pain and although heart attacks and strokes are often due to combination of risk factors exacerbated by the SARM, acute myocarditis occurs quickly, is unpredictable and can be very serious.’

While some anabolic steroids have been approved for use in medical settings in the UK, like testosterone, no SARMs have passed that safety threshold.

SARMs are technically legal in Britain due to a loophole which means they can be bought and sold as ‘research chemicals’.

Many products rely on legal disclaimers to get round the law, warning customers: ‘Under no circumstances are these products sold for human consumption’.

Britain’s drug watchdog, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, claims SARMs fall outside of its remit and refused to comment.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the MHRA’s equivalent in the US, has previously warned about potential life-threatening side effects from SARMs. 

In 2017, the FDA said the drugs were shown to ‘increase the risk of heart attack or stroke and life threatening reactions like liver damage’.

Depop’s terms and conditions claim it has ‘zero tolerance policy for any drugs’ or ‘drug paraphernalia’.

In the case of eBay, its policy states: ‘Products that pose a health or safety hazard aren’t allowed. 

‘To ensure the safety and well-being of our members, eBay does not allow listings for items that are banned, recalled, or dangerous to a buyer.’

Ebay has removed the listing since been alerted to it by MailOnline, slamming the seller as ‘opportunistic’.

Depop did not respond to MailOnline’s request for comment and the listing was still live at the time of writing.

There are concerns that young people who would normally not take steroids are turning to SARMs because they wrongly believe they are safer.

SARMs are also taken in pill form, rather than injected like most steroids which adds to fears they could be a ‘gateway’ into harsher chemicals.

Both drugs bind to the androgen receptors, causing changes to DNA which allow muscles to grow bigger and quicker.

Steroids are a blunt tool that also impact other parts of the body, leading to side effects such as prostate issues, hair loss and acne.

SARMs were designed to be ’tissue selective’ – targeting the muscles without setting off this same chain of reactions.

Sellers on the black market have seized on this and used it as a marketing tool to push SARMs. But similar issues have also been seen in SARMs users.

‘Even if the risks are lower than with steroids, they are not zero and they are largely unpredictable,’ according to Dr Witte.

‘No drug is entirely safe, and even “safer drugs” have the ability to be poisons if used without caution and careful monitoring.’ 

Because SARMs are taken orally in pill form, rather than injected straight into the bloodstream, they have to be processed by the digestive system and the liver.

The liver responds by overproducing certain enzymes that can leak into the blood and cause inflammation, causing heart, blood pressure and other organ damage issues. 

Like steroids, SARMs also cause significant hormonal imbalances in men and women — particularly at high doses.

In men, they shut down the body’s natural production of testosterone when they come off the drugs, which can shrink their testicles, crash their sex drive, trigger mental health problems and even make them infertile.

While taking SARMS, women will experience virilisation – the process of physically turning into a man – which causes them to grow facial hair and develop a deep voice.

Another problem with SARMS is that people have no way of knowing where their drugs come from, or what’s really in them, according to Witte.

‘So you don’t know what you’re getting for your money or what effects the combination of substances might have.’

‘The other problem is that a safe dose range is unknown,’ according to Witte.

Only a handful of studies have been done in humans at small doses. Bodybuilders are taking them at doses several times greater than has been trialled. 

Witte said: ‘The cases of severe problems are usually in people who are taking high doses for a long time, but this is not always the case.

An eBay spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘These items are banned from eBay’s platform and have been removed. 

‘We use block filter algorithms that are aimed at preventing unsafe products from being listed. These algorithms blocked 7.4 million unsafe listings in 2021.

‘Sometimes opportunistic sellers attempt to circumvent our filters, but when they do our policy teams remove the listings quickly. We also work closely with the MHRA and other regulators who can directly report and remove listings of concern through our Regulatory Portal.’

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