Dangers of Steroid Abuse
All anabolic steroid use not prescribed by a licensed physician, is more properly defined as “steroid abuse”. The reason for this is simple, “Steroids are very powerful hormones that can be extremely dangerous!” They can cause a variety of health problems some of which can have lasting ramifications. Although the twenty-three steroid related dangers listed below are not exhaustive, they certainly illustrate the risks and potentially harmful effects abusers face.
- Stunted growth. Steroids can cause advancement and fusion of the epiphysis (growth plates in the bones). As androgen levels rise it leads to bone age advancement. When the bone plates are completely fused, growth is finished. Furthermore, over-treatment with steroids can result in growth deceleration (slowing of the rate of growth).
- Increased risk of HIV and Hepatitis. Because anabolic steroid users often do not have access to appropriate amounts of clean and sterile needles, or do not follow appropriate injection protocol, there is an increased risk of contracting HIV or other bloodborne pathogens.
- Increased risk of hair loss. Anabolic steroids can convert to variants of Dihydrotestosterone, the recognized cause of premature hair loss. In addition to contributing to loss, steroids can also expedite the process of male pattern baldness in predisposed users.
- Hypogonadism, the shrinking of testicles. Because the body’s natural testosterone is no longer needed when anabolic steroids are administered, the body halts production of its own supply of testosterone results in a shrinking of the testicles.
- Increased risk of bodily hair growth. This happens throughout the body, but not on the head, of both men and women.
- Elevated blood pressure. Due to their ability to raise red blood cell count and Hematocrit levels, steroids can cause blood pressure to rise significantly.
- Increased amounts of LDL cholesterol (the bad kind). This excess tends to remain on the cell walls causing conditions like atherosclerosis and heart disease. An elevated LDL can generate a negative shift in triglycerides, which contribute to serious health problems.
- Lowered HDL cholesterol (the good kind). HDL cholesterol is very dense, and actually helps to clear debris from arterial walls. Lowering HDL cholesterol can increase the risk of coronary disease.
- Increased aggression. Commonly referred to as “Roid Rage”, there is evidence that anabolic steroids contribute to increased aggressive behavior in some users.
- Addiction. Although physical addiction to steroids is unlikely, the potential for psychological addiction is quite high.
- Enlargement of the left ventricle of the heart. It has been well documented that coronary issues may result from the abuse of anabolic steroids, commonly beginning with the enlargement of the left ventricle.
- Liver toxicity. Orally administered anabolic steroids have been shown to increase the markers of liver function, and to cause liver toxicity.
- Edema (water retention). Elevated and imbalanced estrogen levels, coupled with increased sodium retention causes the user to retain water.
- Stroke. Steroid use has been medically linked to an increased incidence of strokes.
- Heart attack. Abusers of anabolic steroids face a variety of potential heart related complications, among which are an increased risk of heart attacks and the possibility of coronary disease.
- Prostate Enlargement. Some steroids convert to Dihydrotestosterone and its variants, which can enlarge the prostate gland increasing the risk of urination problems and prostate cancer.
- Gynecomastia. Certain steroids aromatize (convert to estrogen). High levels of estrogen can cause the enlargement of mammary tissue in males, resulting in female-like breasts.
- Sexual dysfunction. Some steroids directly cause a temporary of a loss of libido and sexual impotence.
- Infertility. Some steroids cause a reduction in sperm count, resulting in decreased ability to reproduce.
- Deepening of the voice. Although it occurs naturally in both men and women, steroid use can further deepen one’s voice.
- Clitoral hypertrophy. Women who abuse steroids may experience an irreversible increase in clitoris size.
- Menstrual problems. Female abusers may experience cycle irregularities, a hindrance or loss of menstruation, and further problems all of which contribute to a decline in reproductive ability.