How to Interpret Scientific Studies
Science is often used as a Validation Point in order to implement certain Methods into your Body Building or Fitness Regime. YouTube is full of “Science Based” Instructional Videos that proclaim to have the Fastest, most Efficient, most Effective, Highest Results, least Side-Effects, etc. Methods, because a Specific Study confirms it.
However, a lot of these Studies, if not the Majority of them, have not been Performed on Athletes, especially Enhanced Body Builders and should thus first be Carefully Analyzed, before considered to be Valid & Applicable to your Individual Situation.
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Current Individual Situation of the Researcher
In order to assess the Applicability of a Specific Study, you’ll have to compare the Methods of Analysis to your own Current Situation. Meaning you’ll need to take your Personal Variables into Consideration:
• Status of Health; currently Healthy or suffering from a Specific & Comparable Disease Described in the Study
• Medical Background; previously cured Health Conditions or Medications used.
• Athletic Status; chosen Sport, Level of Development, Years Invested, Injuries Acquired, etc.
• PED Status; currently Drug-Free or Enhanced? which PED’s you’re using or have used in the Past and how you respond to them as an Individual.
• Medical Literacy; understanding of Vocabulary used and Knowledge Background required to interpret the Study.
Peer-Reviewed & Published Research, Study or Journal Attributes
Each Published Study has several Important Attributes, which are Crucial Validation Points in order to assess their Validity & Applicability:
• Study Publication Date; Science changes every Day, older Studies are often Validated or Disproven / Invalidated with consecutive Studies performed with similar Variables & Parameters. Look for the most Recent Study Available on each Subject you’re Analyzing.
• Sample Size; most Studies are performed with less than 100 People, meaning 1 Person’s Unique Variation can change the Results & Conclusion of the Study with several Percent. On a Study with 10-50 People, a 1 Person Deviation can change the Results with 2-10%. A Study with a Sample Size of 1,000 People or more, requires at least 10 People for a 1% Deviation, making the Results & Conclusion more Valid. FYI: 78,000,000 People are needed to express 1% of the Human Population on Earth!
• Sample Size Traits; you’ll need to compare this to your Current Situation and see if the Individuals in the Study were selected by Parameters which apply to you as well. Ask yourself if you would be able to Join & Contribute to the Study Sample Group?
• Subjects; was the Study performed on Specific Tissues In-Vitro, on Mice or Rats with Specific Gene-Mutations, on other Animals or on Humans, either Healthy or with Specific Illnesses or Medical Complications? These Variables are Particularly Important when it comes to Gene Transcription, which is Mediated by the Androgen Receptors. Results vary vastly between Species and Various Co-Factors need to be Considered.
• Applicant / Client; who was the Main Financier to support the Study? As the Supplement Industry grow and more Niche Products came to Market, specific Studies were performed to Validate Claims made as Unique Selling Points for each Product. The Results of these Studies were often Manipulated or Completely Fabricated in order to sell Products. Always make sure the Studies were performed without Financial Backing or Interest. Many Pharmaceutical Products that passed FDA Approval also had Financial Backing during the Research Process, prior to Approval. Please keep that in mind!
• References; these are often included to Validate Claims, give Credit or used as a Quotation of Results. If the Study only includes References that Support their Results & Conclusion and doesn’t include Studies with opposing Results for further Discussion, then the Study is Biased and often isn’t available to be Peer-Reviewed either. Articles are more likely to be Scientifically Valid if they are Peer-Reviewed & Approved before Publication, by Experts of the Field the Study was performed in.
Once you Analyze each Study Critically and learn how to Dissect the Results & Conclusion, in relation to your Current Situation, Knowledge & Experience in Body Building or Fitness, you’ll find that most Studies or Journals fall short and were either not performed in their Entirety or Analyzed Correctly.
It’s up to you, the Researcher, to find Studies which are comparable to the Subject you’re trying to find Valid Information for and “Cherry-Pick” which Information is relevant to your Situation, composing your own Aggregation and forming your own Conclusion, based on perhaps 2-10 Studies performed on the Subject. This requires a tremendous amount of Time and Fundamental Understanding of each Subject, prior to researching Studies & Journals so you can Analyze them Critically!
PUBMED – US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health
PubMed is a Free Search Engine accessing Primarily the MEDLINE Database of References & Abstracts on Life Sciences & Bio-Medical Topics. The United States National Library of Medicine (NLM) at the National Institutes of Health maintains the Database as part of the Entrez-System of Information Retrieval.
Articles, Journals & Topics are published in their Entirety for Free or can be Purchased through another Website, some are Restricted to Medical Practitioners or Students and you’ll need to prove your Status in the Medical Field before you can access these Journals.
Published Abstracts usually contain the Objective, Method (of Analysis), Results & Conclusions of the Study. However, the Complete Study can sometimes be found at the bottom of the Abstract, either under their PMCID or DOI Links.
PubMed Research Example
While Researching the Health Impact of certain PEDs on the Brain, I came across several Studies, which all Documented a Specific Aspect of what I was looking for;
Can Serum Estrogen Levels within the Clinical Reference Range, Protect against Neuro-Toxicity, Neuronal Death / Decay & Brain Damage, when Anabolic-Androgenic Steroids (AAS) are used at Supra-Physiological Doses?
I found the Following 3 Studies which helped my form my Conclusion of this Hypothesis:
Neuro-Protective Effects of Estrogens & Androgens in CNS Inflammation & Neuro-Degeneration.
Authors: Spence RD, Voskuhl RR.
Publish Date: 24 December 2011
PubMed Link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3616506/
This Study investigates the possibility of Neuro-Protective Effects of Estrogens & Androgens in relation to treatments for Multiple Sclerosis (MS) using Experimental Autoimmune Encephalomyelitis (EAE). This Study looks into Disease Protection Methods during EAE and clinical trials of MS.
Endogenous Estrogens & Androgens, treatments with Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators (SERMs) were found to provide certain levels of disease protection in the EAE Models.
NOTE: Most of the Sub-Studies that are part of this Study Aggregation were performed on Mice or older Women (over 50 Years Old). Although Estrogen was shown to have Neuro-Protective Effects in Multiple Sclerosis (Testosterone was not found to be Protective), it’s unclear if Estrogen is Neuro-Protective against Supra-Physiological Doses of Testosterone or other AAS.
Toxic Impact of Anabolic Androgenic Steroids in Primary Rat Cortical Cell Cultures.
Authors: Zelleroth S, Nylander E, Nyberg F, Gronbladh A, Hallberg M.
Publish Date: 15 January 2019
PubMed Link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30500611
This Study investigated the Neuro-Toxic Effects of Testosterone, Nandrolone, Stanozolol & Trenbolone on Embryonic Rats. They were treated with increasing Concentrations of AAS for 24 Hours (Single-Dose) or 3 Days (Repeated Exposure). Cortical Cells were then Co-Treated with the Androgen-Receptor (AR) Antagonist Flutamide, to determine whether the Potential Adverse Effects observed were Mediated by the AR.
Single-Dose Exposure with Testosterone, Nandrolone & Trenbolone increased Lactate De-Hydrogenase (LDH) Release, indicating Tissue Damage, while no effect was detected with Stanozolol. Repeated Exposure resulted in LDH Release and affected Mitochondrial Function.
Testosterone, Nandrolone & Trenbolone caused their Toxic Effects by induction of Apoptosis (programmed Cell Death), while Stanozolol seemed to induce Necrosis (reduced Blood Flow induced Cell Death). Flutamide almost completely prevented AAS-induced Toxicity by maintaining Mitochondrial Function, Cellular Integrity & Inhibition of Apoptosis.
NOTE: While this Study compared 4 Different Steroids to each other in order to assess their Neuro-Toxic Effects, Embryonic Rats aren’t really comparable to Fully Grown Athletic Human Adults. Embryonic Rats also don’t have the same Micro-Nutrient Intake as Human Athletes, which can contribute to Neuronal Health, Androgen Receptor Sensitivity, Density & Turn-Over and Knowledge to Maintain Serum Estrogens in the Reference Range in order to exert Neuro-Protection. Although Brain Cells might respond in a similar Fashion to certain AAS amongst all forms of Life, regardless of Level of Development & Intelligence. The fact that Testosterone converts to Estrogen, but the other Compounds do not convert to Estrogen, was not researched in this Study and not considered as a Variable in the Method of Analysis. Meaning we don’t know if the Lack of Estrogen, was exacerbating the Neuro-Toxicity or the AAS Studied. They only thing you can really conclude is that Flutamide might prevent Neuro-Toxic Effects of Testosterone, Nandrolone, Stanozolol & Trenbolone, but it might prevent Anabolism by blocking AR on Muscle Cells as well.
Cognitive Performance & Structural Brain Correlates in Long-Term Anabolic-Androgenic Steroid Exposed and Non-Exposed Weightlifters.
Authors: Bjornebekk A, Westlye LT, Walhovd KB, Jorstad ML, Sundseth OO, Fjell AM.
Publish Date: May 2019
PubMed Link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31033318
This Study compares 84 AAS Enhanced (current or previous) Weightlifters with 69 Drug-Free Weightlifters by Testing their Fine Motor Speed, Speed of Processing, Learning & Memory, Working Memory, Executive Functioning and Problem Solving. The AAS Groups was separated into Short-Term & Long-Term AAS Exposure.
AAS-Exposed Weightlifters performed significantly worse on several Cognitive Domains, independent of Age, Education, Verbal IQ, and Exposure to other Drugs. Longer duration of AAS-use was associated with Poorer Memory Function.
NOTE: While this Study is performed on a Large Group of People who are similar to Body Builders from an Athlete Perspective, where it falls short is including the Weightlifters Serum Estrogen Levels, Micro-Nutrient Sufficiency/Deficiency Levels, Cognitive Skills prior to taking AAS and most Importantly; which AAS were used in order to increase their Performance in Weightlifting.
Based on these 3 Studies and several other Studies & Journals I’ve Analyzed in my Research, I’ve come to the Conclusion that there’s currently no Scientific Proof that Serum Estrogen Levels within the Reference Range can Protect Against Neuron Death / Decay from Supra-Physiological Dosages of Testosterone or other Steroids AND I’ve come to the Conclusion that there’s no Scientific Proof that Supra-Physiological Dosages of Testosterone, or other Bio-Identical Hormones (DHT, DHEA, Pregnenolone), alongside Serum Estrogen Levels within the Clinical Reference Range, cause Neuro-Toxicity or Neuronal Death / Decay in Human Adults.
That being said, the Science is Extremely Limited as of 2020! The only useful Take-Away from Hours of Research and Analysis, is that Aromatase Inhibitors need to be used Sparingly AND Serum Estrogen Levels need to be Maintained within the Reference Range, as Low Levels of Estrogen certainly contribute to Neuronal Death / Decay, Bone-Demineralization, Loss of Empathy or Libido, Skin Dryness, etc. Regardless of the Amount of Bio-Identical Hormones (Testosterone, DHT, DHEA, Pregnenolone) or Synthetic AAS are Present in Serum.
Researching a Subject like Hyper-Trophy induced by Resistance Training or improving Protein Synthesis with the use of Meal Timing, BCAA, PEDs, Digestive Aids, etc. Will lead you down a Rabbit Hole of Mental Masturbation & Micro-Managed Brain Candy, which is often very Counter Productive to simply following the Basics; Heavy Lifting to Failure and Consuming 4-7 Meals per Day with Animal Protein Sources.
Resources for Research, Studies & Journals
Aggregation Websites that use Interpretations of Studies & Journals in order to provide unbiased Information about Supplements (and some PEDs) are usually a bit more Reliable for your Body Building Aspirations. You can use the Following Websites as a Credible Source for Information:
• WebMD (Free): https://www.webmd.com/
• Examine (Partial Membership Site): http://examine.com/
• Consumer Lab (Membership Site): https://www.consumerlab.com/
Besides Searching for Studies on PubMed, you can use the following Websites to access Specific Research, Studies or Journals on a wide variety of Subjects:
• Research Gate: https://www.researchgate.net/
• Science Direct: https://www.sciencedirect.com/
• Oxford Academic Journals:
• Google Scholar: https://scholar.google.com/
NOTE: Some Studies might be only be available in Preview Form and the Full Study can be Purchased & Licensed when Applicable. If you copy the Title of the Study and search for it in Google Docs Scholar, you can often find the Full Study as an Water-Marked Imaged PDF, meaning you won’t be able to Search within to Document, but at least you’ll get Access to the Full Study.
Facts / Black & White Answers
Science will always stay open to Interpretation and the “Facts” are often not as Black & White as some Studies make them appear to be. With the vast differences in Genetic Make-Up of Humans, I doubt there will ever be a Black & White answer to most Questions we ask ourselves in regards to Health & Fitness. In the end, it’s how your Body Responds to a certain Adjustment, you can use Science as 1 Part of your Decision Making Process before applying certain Methods or making decisions regarding the use of Specific Foods, Training Protocols, Supplements, PEDs, etc.
After Working with 100s of Body Builders of the Years, I can tell you that NOBODY ended up doing the exact same thing as another Body Builder. There are always Minor Nuances that work for a certain Person and not for another. Use Scientific Studies in order to make an Informed Decision, but don’t get Married to the Results of the Study, they’ll probably become Obsolete or Out Of Date a few Years down the Road.
Considering how much the Human Body Changes from Teens to Twenties to Thirties to Forties, etc. You’ll be changing your Protocols based on Newly Discovered Science as you Age and you get more Experience with your own Body as well!
The more you Learn and the most you Apply what you’ve Learned over the Years, the more Knowledge you Acquire with your own Body. You’ll find that some of the Studies & Scientific “Facts” Applied to your Past or Current Situation and gave you Varied Results, some more then others. While other Studies Proved certain Methods, Supplements, PEDs, Nutritional Strategies worked for the People (or Animals) Examined in that Study, but it didn’t work for you, it might even send you in the Wrong Direction and you end up Regressing in relation to Muscularity or Body Fat Stores.
In the end, the Scientific Information you find Online, is only a Valid as the Results you got from them. If it didn’t work for you, there’s absolutely ZERO NEED for you to Continue with that Particular “Proven” Method, as you’ve Proved to yourself that it’s clearly not the case in your Circumstance. However, if you applied Methods that were Proven to Work with Scientific Evidence and it also gave you Results, then you should atleast Dive into the Subject more and see which other Studies Support the Claims. Because you can always Enrich yourself with Additional Information and Apply what you’ve Learned along the way, in order get Optimize certain Methods and make them Completely Individualized & 100% Effective for yourself.
These are the ONLY Facts or Black & White Answers that Matter! They come from Trial & Error and your Experience. Don’t let certain Studies hold back your Potential to make the best Progress you can make, they’re only 1 Piece of the Puzzle. You’ll never be able to Finish the Puzzle of Body Building in your Life Time, but you can Piece Together 80-90% and get a Pretty Decent Picture for yourself & others to Enjoy, Admire and/or Draw Inspiration from!