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Dangers of Anabolic Steroids

Athletes who take anabolic steroids are at increased risk for heart damage.

Ken Caminiti, the Most Valuable Player in the National League for 1996, died of an apparent heart attack in 2004. He was one of the first professional baseball players to admit using steroids.

In 1988, 38-year old Florence Griffith-Joyner (FloJo) suffocated after suffering a seizure. The three-time gold medalist track star was rumored to have taken male hormones, although this has never been proven. She is considered to be the fastest woman of all time, still holding the world records she set in 1988 for the 100 and 200 meters. From the 100 to the 1500 meters (except the 400m hurdles), no women’s track and field world record has been broken since 1993, when testing for male hormones became more sophisticated. After FloJo’s death, Lorna Boothe, a former training partner, stated that FloJo used a cocktail of steroids and testosterone to change her from an average athlete to the best of all time. She said that she came forward after FloJo’s death to discourage other athletes from taking steroids.

Why Athletes Take Male Hormones
No question about it: synthetic male hormones (anabolic steroids) grow larger muscles and make athletes much stronger. That’s why so many professional and amateur athletes in most sports take them. Many men who are not athletes also take them just to make themselves look more attractive.

Male Hormones May Damage the Heart
A study from Brazil shows that taking male hormones stimulates sympathetic nerves leading to the heart to delay heart muscle recovery from exercise. Your heart rate is supposed to slow down as soon as you stop exercising. Those who take male hormones take longer for their heart rates to slow down after exercise and also have reduced flow of blood to their heart muscles (Int J Sports Med, 2013 Oct;34(10):931-5). Taking male hormones also causes the left ventricle, the main pumping chamber of the heart, to enlarge disproportionately, compared to the rest of the heart. This increases chances for irregular heart beats and sudden death (Heart, May 2004;90(5):473–475). Synthetic male hormones also lower blood levels of the good HDL cholesterol and increase levels of the bad LDL cholesterol.

November 17th, 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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