Pregnancy Category X

Uses. This drug's main medical usage is for treatment of anemia and other blood disorders. The compound has also seen success against hereditary an-gioedema, a condition involving painful swelling of body tissues. Discouragement of blood clots and encouragement of weight gain are other medical applications. Particular success has been noted in weight gain with HIV/AIDS (human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) patients, accompanied by general improvement in quality of life. Cancer patients have also benefitted from the drug's weight-gain property. An experiment indicated that short-term dosage can help persons suffering from heart failure. In another experiment the drug improved bone density in bedridden people. Still another experiment showed that oxymetholone can boost height and weight in boys and girls who are small for their age; such usage requires careful monitoring, as the substance has potential for stopping bone growth and thereby preventing attainment of normal adult height.

Drawbacks. Oxymetholone can produce masculine physical characteristics in women (facial hair, deeper voice) and disrupt the menstrual cycle; some authorities indicate that such masculinization is uncommon. Experimentation with male rats lowered their blood levels of testosterone and halted sexual activity. In human males oxymetholone may promote enlargement of the prostate gland. Men with prostate or breast cancer should avoid the drug, as should women who have both breast cancer and signs of a bone-weakening disease called osteoporosis. Oxymetholone can damage the liver and, in unusual circumstances, is associated with fatal harm to the spleen. Cholesterol levels can rise, increasing the risk of conditions leading to heart attack and stroke; kidney dialysis patients are considered to be at special risk for such outcomes. Case reports attribute stroke to oxymetholone. The drug may cause fluid retention, a possible hazard for persons with heart, liver, or kidney dis-

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