Truths And Myths About Steroids: Why Anabolic Steroids Are Bad For Health
There’s no single person in the world who wouldn’t have thought of becoming stronger, faster or bigger at some point of time in his/her life.
Although Alpha men have been represented in all sorts of ways in media, men, in particular, are always found to be more keen on achieving such bodily peaks.
And who doesn’t want to peak in such a way if the solution can be quick too!
Anabolic steroids have been getting bad press for a long time now and have been continuously blamed in various public forums for their potentially harmful side effects on the human body.
All kinds of false information and myths regarding them have also found their way into the public realm, frightening anyone away who might be even remotely interested in trying them out.
When sportspersons first used anabolic steroids back in the 40s and 50s, breaking one world record after the other, the medical and scientific community was simultaneously publishing studies related to their inefficacy.
The only legitimate info about them came from the front lines at that time. It was the weightlifters who had benefited from them (followed by bodybuilders later) who broke the news.
Scientists, on the other hand, continued claiming that anabolic steroids were ineffective on muscles for several decades. In fact, some of them maintain that stand even today!
Eventually, medical science caught up with the reality, but the damage was already done, and everyone started turning a blind eye to anything that originated from the academia.
Then came the internet revolution, when scientific facts mixed up with personal experiences, resulted in some of the biggest steroid-related myths ever witnessed.
As all such myths originated not from the doctors, but users of these substances, people often accept them as facts.
And considering that Internet serves as the main source of information on anabolic steroids these days, it’s the person who shouts the loudest, that is heard by all and often repeated too, regardless of whether he is right or wrong.
The purpose of this article is to clear the air around steroids and tell you about all these myths and facts, so that you don’t have to discover all of it on your own, sometimes a tough way!
Truths And Myths About Steroid Use:
1. Do Steroids Decrease Endurance?
No, steroid usage doesn’t decrease endurance. On the contrary, regularly using them can significantly increase your endurance levels as you’d witness a good spike in the red blood cells of your body.
RBCs are counted amongst the most important physiological components when it comes to athletes, especially the ones involved in endurance sports. They carry oxygen to different body tissues, including muscles.
It’s important to mention here that blood doping, a term used for the practice of unethically increasing the red blood cells’ quantity in one’s bloodstream, is considered illegal.
However, indulging in tissue training wherein you train for many weeks in higher altitude environments can deliver the same effect and increase your body’s red blood cells’ count.
2. Does Steroid-use Cause Liver Damage?
People who use steroids would quickly counter this question by stating that injectable steroids are a comparatively better means of taking these substances compared to oral kinds.
When taken orally, it’s inevitable that the steroid would need to pass through your liver, and then into the bloodstream.
This can lead to high levels of toxicity. However, they fail to tell you that this isn’t the case with each and every orally ingested steroid.
Yet, steroids continue to get a bad name for the side effects they can cause in the liver when millions of people choose to willingly kill this organ through alcohol consumption and usage of all types of ‘legal’ prescription drugs!
It’s worth pondering that why steroids should be stigmatized in such a way and looked down upon, when there is no such stigma associated with alcohol usage, even if it’s about social drinking?
3. Can Steroids Make You Go Bald?
Baldness is something that’s genetic in nature. Increasing the testosterone levels in your body through the use of anabolic steroids doesn’t cause baldness.
However, many people argue that these substances can speed up the process though.
Hearing about such side effects is good enough to scare a large percentage of people away from steroids’ use. But no one tells them that there are ways that such side effects can be prevented.
Regular use of hair loss shampoos is particularly recommended as a precautionary measure whenever you are going through a cycle.
There is a general thumb rule that any athlete in his 20s, particularly the ones who wish to use steroids for purely aesthetic reasons, must think twice as their bodies would be naturally producing large quantities of testosterone on their own.
This naturally produced quantity would be considerably more than what would ever be produced in any phase of their lives. Steroid use for such purposes should be considered well into one’s 30s instead if one still has the willingness to experiment with these substances.
4. Can Steroids Hurt A Man’s Fertility?
Just like the steroids have the ability to shrink a man’s testicles, and reduce the natural production of testosterone in his body, they can also have a negative impact on his sperm count.
Men’s bodies naturally produce incredibly high levels of androgens inside their testicles. This, in turn, leads to the production of more sperm, keeping them at normal levels.
However, if a person is on drugs, the body would try bringing down those androgen levels, resulting in a drop in the sperm production too.
Hence, any man who wishes to improve his fertility and plans to have a kid in the near future should avoid the use of testosterone-boosting supplements.
And if he still chooses to use them, must ask plenty of questions about it (before using).
To give you an example, World Health Organisation (WHO) has in fact been researching various testosterone-based therapies with the potential of working as male contraceptives.
Hence, if they’re looking at such substances in the form of men’s pill, you should definitely be careful in their use, concerning your fertility.
5. Can Using Steroids Make Your Penis Shrink?
Although even the most uninformed people are nowadays aware that this is a myth, a tiny percentage of men who’ve never researched or used anabolic steroids, continue to keep this myth alive.
Let’s clear the air once and for all – steroids have zero impact on the penis size.
Your penis will not shrink if you use anabolic steroids. Although your testicles might.
One of the common side effects of anabolic steroid usage, which is also reversible in nature, is shrinking of testicles.
In fact, higher testosterone levels in the body facilitate better flow of blood to the penis and increased erections, both of which can temporarily give a more significant appearance to your manhood!
6. Can Steroids’ Use Shrink Your Testicles?
As briefly detailed above, whenever you start steroids’ consumption to improve your body’s testosterone levels, it’s only natural that your body’s hormone balance would go out of whack.
Your body would then respond by shutting down its native testosterone production, which would lead to smaller testicles.
Actually, your body has a very effective feedback mechanism. So, whenever it senses that your male hormones are at a fairly high level (whether produced naturally or with the help of a testosterone-booster), it would use that information to turn down the thermostat!
In a sense, your body’s hormonal balance would be returned to the prepubescent stage of your life.
However, once you stop taking any such anabolic steroids, the normal testosterone production in your body would be restored over a certain period of time.
In general, the longer you use these steroids and the higher their dosages, the longer your body will take to get back to normal. In some cases, men can also have relatively long sexual dysfunction and fertility-related problems.
7. Can Steroids Cause The Development of Man Boobs?
All men’s bodies naturally convert a certain percentage of their testosterone content into estrogen.
So, whenever you increase the testosterone level of your body with the help of steroids, your body would convert an appropriate amount of it into estrogen (what it considers normal).
Although it might be a small percentage, it can be good enough to cause man boobs’ formation.
Having uncontrolled doses of these steroids might lead to a situation where you wouldn’t get to know what’s happening to your body.
You’d either experience breast enlargement (gynecomastia) or tenderness of the breast tissues (mastodynia).
Majority of the androgenic drugs available in the marketplace cause this condition.
8. Do Women Who Regularly Use Steroids End Up Looking Like Men?
Contrary to the popular perception, women actively use steroids too.
These women can be bodybuilders, athletes or plain recreational users.
However, as expected in men, women are also very selective in their steroids usage, mostly to ensure that they don’t end up looking like male bodybuilders.
Furthermore, women suffer more severe side effects due to steroids’ usage, compared to men.
These side effects can manifest in the form of deepening of their voices, unwanted hair growth, and clitoral enlargement.
Please note, any such side effects are reversible, and the body does get back to normal sometime after the completion of the cycle.
9. Do Steroids Cause Depression and Mood Swings?
The link between steroids usage and depression is mostly a creation of the media.
All kinds of media have exploited this misinformation, despite the fact that every report linking depression to steroids is purely anecdotal, and in most of these cases, those men were suffering from mental imbalances already.
On the other hand, any increase in testosterone level is known to reduce stress and improve mood.
Coming to the mood swings or the ‘roid rage’ aspect of it, as aptly explained in the popular documentary named ‘Bigger, Stronger, Faster,” steroids only amplify your already existing personality characteristics.
Majority of the tests in this regard have been carried out on rats, and unlike rats, humans are far better able to control their aggression.
In fact, some of the studies have revealed that testosterone makes men feel motivated and positive, while estrogen is to be blamed for increased aggression.
10. Are Steroids Addictive?
Steroids being addictive is one of those myths that even your grandfather must have heard about from his peer group back the day.
Even today, despite the information age that we live in, many unsuspecting men in the gymnasium believe that steroids are addictive and very difficult to give up later.
However, scientific studies carried out in this regard suggest otherwise.
One such study survey was carried out by Dutch experts in the year 2004, which delved into the potentially addictive nature of anabolic-androgenic steroids.
These experts found that only 25% of the people using these steroids demonstrated some symptoms of dependence.
Furthermore, the risk factors of such steroid dependency included bigorexia (belief among users that they’re not as big or as strong as they wanted to be) and them consuming high steroid dosages for a considerable period.
11. Can Anabolic Steroids Cause Cancer?
Scientific evidence has revealed that men having high levels of testosterone in their bodies are at no greater risk of prostate cancer than men having low testosterone levels.
Development of prostate cancer is often caused by genetic factors.
It’s important for the scientific community to conduct more human studies (than on rats) about anabolic steroids. It’s only then that we’d get more precise data, allowing us to rectify and clear-up all such misconceptions.
On the contrary, anabolic steroids have been found to prevent the further development of prostate cancer cells.
In fact, many doctors prescribe the use of such steroids when prostate cancer patients stop responding to hormone therapies.
Dexamethasone, available in capsule form, is the most commonly used steroid in the treatment of prostate cancer.
12. Can Anabolic Steroids Cause Diabetes?
A new scientific study has linked the anabolic steroids’ abuse to metabolic diseases caused because of insulin resistance.
This type of resistance is usually a precursor to the type II diabetes condition, wherein the body doesn’t properly utilize its insulin.
Researchers at the Herlev University Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark conducted the study to discover the impact of anabolic steroids on insulin sensitivity and abdominal fat in 100 men of 50+ age.
Although these researchers couldn’t prove any direct relation between diabetes (caused because of insulin resistance) and anabolic steroids’ usage, their findings did prove that the past and present users of such steroids have comparatively less insulin sensitivity compared to the men who never took such substances.
Hence, even though anabolic steroids may not directly cause diabetes, their use can increase the chances of it.
13. Can Anabolic Steroids Cause High Blood Pressure?
Jon Bjarke Rasmussen, a doctor at the Department of Internal Medicine, Copenhagen University Hospital, Denmark carried out a study with the assistance of other experts on the possibility of high blood pressure due to regular users of anabolic androgenic steroids.
The results of the study were presented at ENDO 2016 (in Boston), an annual meeting of the Endocrine Society.
The results of this study provided scientific evidence that consistent abuse of anabolic steroids can indeed lead to high blood pressure and hypertension, both of which increase the probability of cardiovascular diseases.
In fact, high blood pressure is the number one reason for hemorrhagic strokes in which a person’s blood vessel bursts inside the brain.
14. Can Anabolic Steroids Cause Brain Tumors?
Although no causative link has been found between use of anabolic steroids and brain tumor, long-term usage of the steroids can indeed cause a certain amount of damage to the brain.
As we’ve explained above, anabolic steroids do have a potential to cause cardiovascular system damage, leading to irreversible cardiovascular toxicity, particularly atherosclerotic effects.
These effects, in turn, result in brain aneurysms that can rupture if they’re large enough, causing profuse bleeding in the brain.
On the other hand, certain types of steroids like prednisone and dexamethasone (known as corticosteroids) are in fact used in the treatment of brain tumor, particularly for reducing swelling in the brain (caused as a result of the tumor).
15. Can Anabolic Steroids Cause Ulcerative Colitis?
No, there is no specific scientific evidence which suggests that regular use of anabolic steroids can lead to ulcerative colitis.
However, if you are already suffering from this condition, you would need to tread very carefully with regard to steroids’ usage. Just as in case of brain tumors, many people are also given prednisone to help deal with this condition.
16. Can Anabolic Steroids Cause Hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids are basically swollen-up veins in the anal area. This condition can be external or internal nature and is normally caused due to heavy weightlifting, obesity, pregnancy, and genetics.
While many people accuse steroids like prednisone of causing hemorrhoids, there is no direct scientific connection found between the two.
However, drastically changing the chemical balance of your body by indulging in excessive steroids’ use can potentially lead to this condition.
Some of the other conditions that can lead to hemorrhoids are persistent coughing or constipation.
17. Can Anabolic Steroids Cause Seizures?
There is not enough scientific evidence from both online and offline sources to suggest that regular use of anabolic steroids can lead to epileptic seizures.
Majority of such studies say that while steroids haven’t been found to cause seizures, they can actually be helpful in controlling them.
However, as per actual experiences of users, anabolic steroids can interfere with the antiepileptic drugs in the bloodstream, thereby increasing the possibility of seizures.
Please note, although some people may advise steroid therapy for epilepsy management, such type of treatment is pretty unconventional and availing it shouldn’t be taken lightly as you would be putting your body at serious risks of unwanted (yet commonly seen) side effects.
Check also our Steroids vs Prohormones article.
It won’t be wrong if we say misinformation is the same as skewing the truth. It’s important that scientific community performs controlled human studies to get rid of all such fallacies and myths associated with anabolic steroids.
The stigma associated with their use must be done away with, once and for all.
While anabolic steroids are actively used by sportspersons and people into recreational activities, just like any drug, they should never be abused.
Furthermore, we’d like to emphasize that WE DO NOT RECOMMEND taking any steroids because their dangers far outweigh their benefits.
Instead, we recommend safe and effective steroids’ alternatives that have the same positive effects as steroids, but minus any adverse side-effects.
You can learn about these alternatives by going through the articles posted on our website.
Check this article to discover the best range of safe steroids alternatives:
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