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C. Helping Dialysis Patients Fight Malnutrition & Fatigue

Narrator: This is Science Today. It's been discovered that patients with kidney disease, who are on dialysis and suffering from malnutrition, benefit from low doses of anabolic steroids, or synthesized testosterone. Dr. Kirsten Johansen, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, says these patients often suffer from malnutrition.

Johansen: Malnutrition and low protein mass are the strongest predictors of mortality that we have right now in this group. Our hope was that if we could improve that, perhaps we could improve mortality as well.

Narrator: When patients were given the steroid anabolic steroids for six months, their body mass increased and they reported less fatigue than those given a placebo. Johansen admits these steroids have a controversial air about them, but emphasizes they used much lower doses than those reportedly used by weightlifters.

Johansen: I see this from being very different from use of these compounds by weightlifters. What we're doing here is trying to treat a problem as opposed to taking healthy people and trying to do better.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.