9 ways anabolic steroids are harmful to your body


A few months ago, we all saw a popular actor’s much-publicised ‘transformation’ video. At the beginning of the video, we see the pudgy and out-of-shape actor, who gained 28 kg for a role, transform into a bulky and fit form in a matter of six months. It was an incredible feat, and we’d be lying if we said we weren’t amazed!

Close on the heels of that video, a YouTuber named Ranveer Allahabadia who goes by the screen name Beer Biceps released a response video. In it, he speculated that such a drastic in such a short span of time is impossible without a little help from anabolic steroids. Although he applauded the actor for his hard work and discipline, he also said that these actors could mislead the youth into thinking that physical transformation is possible within a matter of months. Athletes and actors often supplement their workout routine with steroids. The lure of big muscles and enhanced performances often make them ignore the horrible side effects that come with them. Here are some of the devastating side effects of taking anabolic steroids. Read fitness expert Justin Woltering’s tips for insane muscle growth.

Changes in the shape of the heart
Steroids could cause you a change of heart, literally! Studies have proven that prolonged use of anabolic steroids can alter the structure of a person’s heart, which can mess with its contraction and relaxation functions. [1] Steroid usage can also possibly cause an increase in the heart’s size and trigger future heart failure. [2]
Liver diseases and cancer
Your liver is responsible for breaking down the steroids in your body. Continuously abusing oral anabolic steroids will surely put a lot of pressure on your liver and in no time it causes the organ to give in. [3] There are also cases of liver cancer developing due to steroids. This risk, however, is not seen with injectable steroids.
High blood pressure
Studies have also shown how anabolic steroid usage can cause high blood pressure or hypertension among athletes. [3] Your kidney functions could go for a toss causing sodium and water retention in the body. This puts pressure on the veins, causing high BP.

Shrinking of testicles
Your testicles are in charge of producing testosterone. When your brain senses that it is already being introduced into the body from outside (steroids is a type of testosterone), it signals the testes to stop producing it. The result is a shrunken and shrivelled pair of testicles. [4] Here are 8 symptoms of hypogonadism or shrunken testicles.

Oily skin and severe acne
You may think acne and oily skin are two of the less serious side effects of steroid use. But not acne fulminans! It is a serious form of acne that causes deep scarring and pitting of the facial skin. [5] If you take steroids for too long, the excess testosterone in your body causes your sebaceous glands to overproduce sebum.

Hair loss
One of the worst-kept secrets of the fitness world is the steroid-induced hair loss; which is why too many men in the industry are balding. Too much DHT (Dihydrotestosterone), a male hormone, spells doom for the hair follicles. [6]

Your testicles are in charge of producing testosterone. When your brain senses that it is already being introduced into the body from outside (steroids is a type of testosterone), it signals the testes to stop producing it. The result is a shrunken and shrivelled pair of testicles. [4]

Cholesterol and blood lipids
Steroid usage causes a big change in the lipid profile of your blood thanks to the meddling effects of DHT. It also messes with the production of good cholesterol HDL which is responsible for removing the bad cholesterol from the body. [8]

Breast growth in men
Probably one of the most embarrassing side effects of anabolic steroid usage in men is the growth of breasts. Anabolic steroids tend to throw off your hormonal balance, causing oestrogen to dominate testosterone, causing enlargement of breasts in men. [9]

Some of these side effects are reversible, but some aren’t. Others can be potentially life threatening. These are some of the reasons why more and more people in the fitness industry are making an informed choice and staying away from steroids. Read about the tried-and-tested old school tips to bulk up.

[1] Sullivan, M. L., Martinez, C. M., Gennis, P., & Gallagher, E. J. (1998). The cardiac toxicity of anabolic steroids. Progress in cardiovascular diseases, 41(1), 1-15.
[2] Kennedy, M. C., & Lawrence, C. (1993). Anabolic steroid abuse and cardiac death. The Medical journal of Australia, 158(5), 346-348.
[3] Lenders, J. W. M., Demacker, P. N. M., Vos, J. A., Jansen, P. L. M., Hoitsma, A. J., Van’t Laar, A., & Thien, T. (1988). Deleterious effects of anabolic steroids on serum lipoproteins, blood pressure, and liver function in amateur body builders. International journal of sports medicine, 9(01), 19-23.
[4] Coward, R. M., Rajanahally, S., Kovac, J. R., Smith, R. P., Pastuszak, A. W., & Lipshultz, L. I. (2013). Anabolic steroid induced hypogonadism in young men. The Journal of urology, 190(6), 2200-2205.
[5] Heydenreich, G. (1989). Testosterone and anabolic steroids and acne fulminans. Archives of dermatology, 125(4), 571-572.
[6] de Souza, G. L., & Hallak, J. (2011). Anabolic steroids and male infertility: a comprehensive review. BJU international, 108(11), 1860-1865.
[7] Tosti, A., Misciali, C., Piraccini, B. M., Peluso, A. M., & Bardazzi, F. (1994). Drug-induced hair loss and hair growth. Drug Safety, 10(4), 310-317.
[8] Costill, D. L., Pearson, D. R., & Fink, W. J. (1984). Anabolic steroid use among athletes: Changes in HDL-C levels. The Physician and Sportsmedicine, 12(6), 112-117.
[9] Carlson, H. E. (2015). Gynecomastia. In 2015 Meet-The-Professor: Endocrine Case Management (pp. 289-292). The Endocrine Society.

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