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How Bad are Steroids for Your Health?
Steroid use seems to have almost become recreational, the amount of young men and women who take steroids is mind-boggling, the worst thing about taking steroids is that many don't see a lot of improvement of their physique.
In a previous article, I discussed the dangers of anabolic steroids, and yes, we all know they cause side effects but what are the real dangers to your health?
I believe that this is a topic that should be discussed because a lot of us know they can cause health problems and in some extreme cases may cause death.
Steroid use in the sport of bodybuilding dates back to the early 1950s.
At that time a few bodybuilders began experimenting around with testosterone. However, judging from an article published on statistical analysis of Olympic competitions published in the (International Journal of History) tells us that Soviet athletes began using testosterone between 1952-1956.
So, we can safely assume that bodybuilders were not using steroids before 1956.
Years ago I remember seeing a written interview from Reg Park 1(Mr. Universe 1951, 1958, 1965) where he mentioned having heard about steroids being used in the 1960s by East German and Soviet athletes during the 1960 Olympics.
Ever since then, steroid use has become more popular.
In the 1960s powerlifters and bodybuilders began using steroids to enhance their performance and physiques while powerlifters used them to increase strength.
Fast forward 40 years later steroid use by bodybuilders has become mainstream. Steroid cycles seem to be used on a daily basis to help bodybuilders maintain their massive size almost all year round.
Gone are the days of using steroids a few months before competing.
The problem today is that many young men have begun to idolize these massive behemoths and now want to use steroids to look just like them.
Many don't even have plans to compete professionally, they just want to look good, which completely defeats steroid use altogether.
The problem is that long term steroid use can damage your health, how bad these health issues become all depend on the steroids and the length of time they are used.
I am in no way here to preach to anyone about steroid use, I just want to inform you about what I have learned about the long term side effects both from my own personal experience and those of friends who have used them.
Oral or Injectable?
Steroids are taken in two ways, Oral (pills) or intramuscular injections.
Which one is better?
The truth is neither, however, ask a pro bodybuilder and they will tell you that injectables are better because they last longer.
Pills, on the other hand, have a shorter half-life and put a strain on your liver.
Popular oral steroids include:
Oral steroids are something that should not be used for long cycles since they pass through the liver, over time they can elevate liver enzymes and long term use can lead to liver damage.
Liver damage is always a worst-case scenario, we always hear about steroids causing high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol but what you don't hear a lot about are other side effects that can have a long term impact on your health.
Besides avoiding oral steroids due to health reasons, oral steroids have a shorter half-life than injectables so they only last for 3-5 hours which means they are usually taken more frequently.
Common side effects of oral steroids may include:
- Weight gain
- Increased eye pressure (which can lead to glaucoma)
- Sleep difficulties (insomnia)
- Liver damage
How oral steroids affect your liver.
Your liver is one of the most important organs in your body, without it, you can't function, if your liver shuts down after 2-3 days you could die.
The function of the liver is to filter out all the toxins from your body.
The good thing is that if your liver is left to rest and you don't put any more bad stuff into your body, your liver can begin to recover by regenerating new healthy cells.
One of the most common diseases caused by oral steroids is something called cholestasis 2 which is caused by 7aa steroids.
7aa steroids include names like Halodrol, Superdrol, Epistane, Epiandrosterone.
The more potent the oral steroid is the more toxic it can be to your liver.
Common symptoms of liver damage include:
- Yellow skin and eyes
- Itchiness especially around the ankles
- Fever and nausea
- Lack of appetite
If any of these symptoms appear you should take action and stop all steroid use at once.
Injectable steroids tend to be the popular choice among bodybuilders, mainly because the half-life (the length of time they stay in your system) is longer.
Popular injectable steroids include:
- Deca Durabolin
- Winstrol Depot
- Nandrolone Phenylpropionate
- Sustanon 250
Besides the above, there are many different injectable testosterone versions available like testosterone cypionate, enanthate, and acetate.
Injectable anabolic steroids are administered in the muscle (intramuscular) or subcutaneous (between the fat and layer of skin)
Since injectable steroids remain in your body for longer, less frequent dosing is required.
Injectable steroids are considered safer and when compared to oral steroids they still can affect your health.
How steroids can affect cardiovascular health
Anabolic steroids have been associated with heart health issues, they are known for causing cardiovascular problems that can lead to heart attack and stroke.
Over the last decade, we have seen many young bodybuilders die due to heart issues.
The biggest problem with steroids is that they modify the levels of lipoproteins, these are responsible for carrying cholesterol through your bloodstream.
This causes elevated cholesterol level and may increase plaque buildup in the arteries.
High blood pressure
High blood pressure (hypertension) is a common health concern from taking anabolic steroids.
Having high blood pressure from using steroids is a HUGE risk factor for hemorrhagic stroke. This is when a blood vessel bursts in the brain.
High blood pressure can also damage the lining in the arteries which is the main cause for atherosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries).
While not life-threatening testicular atrophy (shrinking of the testicles) is common from steroid use. When you take anabolic steroids it causes your body to stop producing testosterone on its own.
This causes your balls to shrink, while you can recover, long term steroid use can make this condition irreversible.
Are the health issues from steroids reversible?
If steroids are discontinued altogether many of the health issues can be reversed, although it can take a long time for the body to recover, sometimes months, or even years, a lot depends on the severity of the health problems and how long steroids have been used.
Using anabolic steroids should not be taken lightly, what many young men and women do not realize is that if they worked hard and tried transforming their body with diet and intense training many would not see the need for steroids.
During the golden era of bodybuilding, most athletes only used steroids for a few months before a competition and then stopped after competing.
Today it seems bodybuilders are running constant cycles which is why we are seeing more bodybuilders die, many have left the sport altogether due to the health risks involved from taking anabolic steroids 3.