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Side Effects of Anabolic Steroids

Anabolic steroids are synthetic male hormones that help athletes to grow larger muscles and become stronger. A study from the University of Texas shows that anabolic steroids may not be as dangerous as many physicians believe. (1).

Your liver is loaded with chemicals called enzymes. When your liver is damaged, it releases these enzymes into your bloodstream, so doctors measure liver damage by measuring blood levels of enzymes. However, many of these enzymes are also found in muscle cells and lifting heavy weights damages muscles, causing these same enzymes to accumulate in the bloodstream. An enzyme called GGTP is found in liver but not muscle cells, and many of the people who were reported to have liver damage did not have elevated levels of GGTP, showing that there was muscle damage from lifting weights and no liver damage. So many reports of liver damage with anabolic steroids are incorrect because the abnormal liver testes were caused by lifting weights and not by a damaged liver.

Anabolic steroids are still not safe, because many athletes take massive overdoses which will damage the liver. They can also damage heart muscle (2), enlarge the prostate (3) and cause infertility (4).

1)RD Dickerman, RM Pertusi, NY Zachariah, DR Dufour, WJ McConathy. Anabolic steroid-induced hepatotoxicity: Is it overstated? Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine, 1999, Vol 9, Iss 1, pp 34-39.

2) Med Sci Sports And Exercise. February, 1992

3) SA Wemyssholden, FC Hamdy, KJ Hastie. Steroid abuse in athletes, prostatic enlargement and bladder outflow obstruction - Is there a relationship? British Journal of Urology 74: 4 (OCT 1994):476-478

4) Lancet December, 1990.

Checked 9/20/08

May 12th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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