Taylor Hooton Foundation > Hoot’s Corner > General > A possible link between anabolic steroid abuse and kidney damage
November 4, 2009
A possible link between anabolic steroid abuse and kidney damage

Most people are unaware of the severe toll that anabolic steroids have on the body and the mind, especially when the user is taking extraordinarily heavy doses of these drugs. The heart, liver, kidneys and other organs suffer to the point that overall life expectancy is reduced.

While scientists have studied the effects of these drugs when used in small doses for legitimate medicinal purposes, there have been only limited studies done on body builders, athletes and others who take steroids for illigitmate reasons. These groups of users typically take steroids in quantities that would make your head spin! One such study was presented to the annual meeting of the American Society of Nephrology and documented the relationship between the use of anabolic steroids and kidney complications.


November 3,, 2009 – Los Angeles Times

Abusing anabolic steroids can carry numerous health risks. In a new study of bodybuilders who abused the substance, a link may have been found between that misuse and serious kidney problems.

In a study presented recently to the annual meeting of the American Society of Nephrologyin San Diego, researchers looked at a small number of bodybuilders who had documented long-term abuse of anabolic steroids and kidney complications.

Among the 10 men, some had proteinuria, or high levels of protein in the urine, as well as renal insufficiency, or poor kidney function caused by reduced blood flow to the kidneys. Five had full nephrotic syndrome, indicated by proteinuria, low levels of protein in the blood, and high cholesterol. Nine had focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, or scarring in the kidneys.

After they stopped using steroids, almost all of the bodybuilders’ kidney problems improved. One study participant, however, developed advanced kidney disease and needed dialysis. Another of the bodybuilders resumed his use of steroids and developed kidney dysfunction again.

Researchers believe that the problems could be related to their substantial gains in muscle mass, which signals the kidneys to step up filtration. That added stress could lead to kidney damage. They also noted that similar organ damage is seen in morbidly obese people, but in bodybuilders it seems to be even more serious.

“Athletes who use anabolic steroids and the doctors caring for them need to be aware of the potentially serious risks to the kidney,” said Dr. Leal Herlitz of Columbia University Medical Center and lead author of the study in a news release.