Supplement to Always Avoid in Bodybuilding

They’re taken to enhance physique, athletic performance and strength and so it’s no wonder that Anabolic Androgenic Steroids (AAS) are commonly taken by professional bodybuilders and athletes and even regular gym buffs who wish to bulk up. The word ‘anabolic’ refers to the ability of these drugs to build muscle, whereas ‘androgenic’ refers to their ability to promote the development of male primary and secondary sexual characteristics. AAS are synthetic derivatives of the male hormone testosterone, and they have also attained notoriety for their associated health risks. Read on to know more…

What research says

According to a study, AAS may be associated with early coronary artery disease. Lead author Francis Ribeiro de Souza said its abuse among young people is a widespread problem globally, and adverse events such as sudden cardiac death and heart attack have been reported in athletes.

The study included 51 men with an average age of 29 years (range 23 to 43 years). Of those, 21 did weight lifting and took anabolic androgenic steroids for at least two years, 20 did weight lifting but did not take steroids, and 10 were healthy but sedentary.

The researchers found that 24 per cent of steroid users had atherosclerosis in their coronary arteries, compared to none of the non-users and sedentary participants. The steroid users with atherosclerosis also had significantly reduced HDL (good cholesterol) levels and HDL function. The study suggests that AAS use may be associated with the development of coronary artery disease in apparently healthy young people.

Expert speak

Do our experts agree with the study? Abuse of AAS has been linked to a variety of different cardiovascular side effects. Adverse cardiovascular effects such as left ventricular hypertrophy i.e. increased muscle mass, reduced heart pumping, blood clots in the arteries supplying the heart, pulmonary embolism i.e. blood clots in the lungs and several cases of sudden cardiac death and acute myocardial infarction have also been reported, informs Dr Nilesh Gautam, senior interventional cardiologist, Asian Heart Institute.

Case in point

“It is not very rampant as it cannot be affordable for all. It’s mostly the gym going population who opt for AAS. Around five to 10 per cent of youngsters prefer such steroids, although it can put one’s heart at risk,” says Dr Narayan Gadkar, consultant cardiologist, Zen Multispeciality Hospital , who has encountered some patients with cardiac issues who are on anabolic androgenic steroids but have other risk factors as well, like some of them are smokers. But he’s had only one patient, 34 years of age, who came with complaints of chest pain. He was on AAS and got a heart attack. As quick treatment and care was possible, post angioplasty, he recovered quickly.

Ideally avoid taking them

“Those patients with cholesterol issues, blood pressure, diabetes or any other medical history should not be taking AAS. The quantity depends from person to person, but it should be ideally avoided. There is no point in externally inducing it into our body, even in sports consumption of such steroids must be banned,” warns Dr Gadkar.


Dr Nilesh Gautam lists common side-effects of anabolic steroids which may include:

  1. Severe acne, oily skin and hair.
  2. Hair loss.
  3. Heart ailments such as heart attack and stroke.
  4. Altered moods, irritability, increased aggression, depression or suicidal tendencies.
  5. Alterations in cholesterol and other blood lipids.
  6. High blood pressure.
  7. Gynecomastia (abnormal development of mammary glands in men causing breast enlargement).
  8. Shrinking of testicles.
  9. Azoospermia (absence of sperm in semen).
  10. Menstrual irregularities in women.
  11. Infertility


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