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Are Anabolic Steroids as Bad as People Think?

Updated on January 9, 2018

Given the bad reputation of “roids,” as they’re often called, you’d think athletes who have used them would be crumbling like buildings in an earthquake!

I’ve been hearing about anabolic steroids since the 1970s. In those days the use of such drugs seemed to be acceptable, but now it’s not. Perhaps the main reason for this stance is because steroids may in fact destroy the people who take them. Is this prevailing viewpoint true or false? I’ll do what I can to answer that question.

The Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia 2000 says anabolic steroids, derived from the male sex hormone testosterone, can be used to increase weight gain and muscle mass, particularly in the upper body, which is why athletes have been using them since the 1930s. Moreover, it states that “steroids can have serious psychological and physiological side effects, including increased aggressive behavior and cancer of the liver.” After developing a test to detect their use, the International Olympic Committee banned steroids in 1974.

An article in Wikipedia states that “long-term use” of “excessive amounts” of steroids can produce effects such as increased levels of harmful cholesterol, acne, decreased sperm count, hair loss, high blood pressure, stunted growth (in adolescents), liver problems, kidney dysfunction and damage to the left ventricle of the heart, increasing the possibility of heart attacks, although this connection to steroid use has been under dispute. And women who take steroids undergo “masculinization,” including facial hair growth and a deepening of the voice.

Regarding the possibility of heart damage, in another Wikipedia article, Arnold Schwarzenegger admitted to using steroids back in the 1970s while engaged in a successful body building career, and has since defended his usage of such drugs. In 1997, Schwarzenegger underwent open heart surgery to replace a bicuspid aortic valve, a condition with which he was born. But could his steroid use have exacerbated this condition?

Steroids adverse effect on the liver may be their most troubling possibility. In an article titled “Anabolic Steroids: Side effects” in the Encyclopedia of Sports Medicine and Science, published in 1998, the author states that the use of AS (anabolic steroids) can have myriad deleterious effects on the liver, including the incidence of cancer, though what kind of steroid, how much of it is used and how often it is used, are very important factors. For instance, steroids that contain a 17-alpha-alkyl group may cause liver tumors, though often these tumors are benign and eventually go away.

Perhaps just as potentially devastating, “Steroids also increase the risk that blood clots will form in blood vessels, potentially disrupting blood flow and damaging the heart muscle so that it does not pump blood effectively,” this according to the Web site

Steroids may also have a profound effect on the brain. On the Web site for the National Institute of Drug Abuse, the text states that although AS don’t cause euphoria, their use can affect mood and behavior in significant ways. This psychiatric dysfunction could include aggression, mood swings, irritability, delusions and manic-like symptoms leading to violence or what’s called “ 'roid rage.” Also Animal studies have shown that steroids could be addictive. Researchers have also observed addictive behavior in humans who take steroids, particularly during withdrawal.

The text on states that with steroid use “the incidence of life-threatening effects appears to be low, but serious adverse effects may be under recognized or underreported, especially since they may occur many years later.” The text goes on to read “most (effects) are reversible if the abuser stops taking the drugs.”

Perhaps you’ve seen public service announcements (PSAs) on TV showing that steroid use breaks down tissues in the body, particularly muscles, bones and tendons, leading to an eventual collapse of one’s musculoskeletal system (or perhaps a shrinking of body parts). Can steroid use really produce such destructive effects? Or do these PSAs rely on hyperbole, metaphor or just plain b.s.?

Information on the Web site (a site that sells steroids) shows that very long-term use of steroids may cause muscle wasting of the leg muscles, as well as osteoporosis, a loss of calcium in the bones.

The Website lists weakened tendons as a possible side effect when people use anabolic steroids.

It appears the aforementioned PSAs may rely more on scare tactics than fact, but for some people the degeneration of the human body after using steroids may be an absolute “scary fact.”

Be that as it may, Jose Canseco, former player in Major League Baseball and author of Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant Roids, Smash Hits and How Baseball Got Big, wrote in the book that steroid use is not bad, and that when taken in small doses under the supervision of a physician, can help players get better and even improve their lives by improving the size of their penises, among other things. (Yes, he says his got bigger after using human growth hormone!) Canseco also dismisses the myth that steroids destroy bodies.

In the introduction to Juiced, Canseco wrote, “Yes, you heard me right: Steroids, used correctly, will not only make you stronger and sexier, they will also make you healthier. Certain steroids, used in proper combinations, can cure certain diseases. Steroids will give you a better quality of life and also drastically slow down the aging process.”

Regarding the possible positive aspects of using steroids or human growth hormone, which is often taken with steroids, the product GHR is advertised to cause your body to once again produce its own human growth hormone, assuming you happen to be over 21, when the body apparently no longer needs it. GHR supposedly rejuvenates internal systems and extends the lifespan. (Strange how the body stops producing something that’s supposed to be so good for us!)

In contrast to Canseco's stance, former NFL player Lyle Alzado died in 1992 of a brain tumor that he said was caused by his use of steroids, though his doctors claimed it would be impossible for steroids to cause such an illness.

In an article in Sports Illustrated, Alzado said, “I started taking anabolic steroids in 1969 and never stopped. It was addicting, mentally addicting. Now I'm sick, and I'm scared. Ninety percent of the athletes I know are on the stuff. We're not born to be 300 lbs or jump 30 ft. But all the time I was taking steroids, I knew they were making me play better. I became very violent on the field and off it. I did things only crazy people do. Once a guy sideswiped my car and I beat the hell out of him. Now look at me. My hair's gone, I wobble when I walk and have to hold on to someone for support, and I have trouble remembering things. My last wish? That no one else ever dies this way."
It seems clear to this writer that using anabolic steroids is something one might do under certain medicinal circumstances, such as when athletes are recovering from injuries, but only with the strict supervision of a doctor and only in small doses and for a short period of time. Of course, if you play professional sports, you better not touch them at all!

So what can we expect to happen to athletes who have used steroids? Should we pity or damn them? The answer for me is neither. Athletes will always try to make themselves better, one way or another and, ultimately, the choice is theirs to make. In the coming years we’ll see how all of this plays out, for better or worse, bodies crumbling like brittle plaster or not. In the end, who will be right – Jose Canseco or Lyle Alzado?

Please leave a comment.

© 2010 Kelley


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    • Kosmo profile image

      Kelley 3 months ago from California

      Thanks for the comment, Riyan! Steroids are still being used by many athletes, especially the Russian ones. Later!

    • stefaniejung profile image

      Riyan 3 months ago from indonesia

      Great Article. .Anabolic steroids are artificially produced hormones that are the same as, or similar to, androgens, the male-type sex hormones in the body.

    • SupplementAdvisor profile image

      SupplementAdvisor 18 months ago

      well done

    • Kosmo profile image

      Kelley 2 years ago from California

      Thanks for the comment, pierrebruce. I've heard of cycling the usage of steroids, and I'm sure that would be better than taking them all the time. As for steroid use in general, I don't think it's as destructive as many people think, but the "authorities" have condemned their usage in most sports, so what can we do about that?

    • pierrebruce profile image

      Bruce St Pierre 2 years ago from 15 Wood Street Swanley Kent BR8 7UY

      Anabolic Steroids are not really bad, it only becomes bad if people are taking too much of it. Everything should be in moderation.

      People who wanted to use Anabolic steroids should learn about cycling.

      Cycling is the process of using steroid without getting the unwanted effects. They inject this for a period of time, and then stop for a resting period, and then inject again.

    • profile image

      Dr Anabolic 4 years ago

      Steroid use and the side effects related to steroid use are over exaggerated in the media. Granted Steroids, like any other drug can cause harmful side effects when taken in large quantities. That is the key here, large quantities. It has actually been proven that an increase of Testosterone can have positive effects in a male. Some of these positives include:

      1) Increased Confidence

      2) Increase Energy

      3) Decreased body fat

      4) Testosterone may improve cognitive ability

      5) Increased Libido/Improved Erections

      Some of the negatives shown with Steroid use are:

      1) Anti Social Behavior - Research has actually shown that anti social behavior in males with a high testosterone level only occurs when they perceive an unfairness in the bargaining situation.

      2) Testosterone Cause Prostate cancer - Again this is one of those things that is passed around. Research has not shown any direct link between steroids and prostrate cancer HOWEVER if you already have prostrate cancer increased levels of Testosterone have been shown to increase the problem.

      Needless to say only someone in the right state of mind and body and of capable mental and physically maturity should consider steroids. TRT is prescribed by doctors to patients suffering from low Testosterone levels. If steroids are that bad, shouldn't we ban them altogether? You don't hear of Doctors prescribing cocaine do you? Just food for thought.

      For more in depth information on steroids and steroid use visit

    • profile image

      Rondo king of triple doubles 4 years ago

      I'm 31 and started taking various roids since I had a pectoralis major tendon reattchment. It was the worst pain ever and I was small and my chest was gone on the left. I was so out of shape and now I can dunk and out play the youngsters and dudes in their 20's. I was 5'11" all my life and now I'm 6'1" and my arm span is 6'7". I've grown like a freak and now I'm not on anything and still have my gains. I dont take much but then again too much might be bad who knows? In the end they help you get strong and grow if used right you can slow down father time. People think I'm like in my early 20's but I'm 31 and only getting stronger, mentally, intrinsically, extrinsically, and of course physically too. If you need it take it. I looked like a slob when I was recovering from surgery and I would still be fucked up if it wasn't for the juice..

    • profile image

      anon 5 years ago

      i feel so much pressure to take them. everyone at the gym is big, people say im big too, and that feels great since im steroid free, but when i see bigger guys i feel like crap. a lot or most of them take steroids, the build them up to be great, and say people who say there bad just don't know enough about them. their actually a wonder drug they say. they have arguments and arguments that don't stop as why you should take them. a lot of the time when i workout i get down because i wonder how big i could have been. the worst was recently, i went to the gym and saw some guy who used to be very skinny get a lot bigger, i wasn't sure if he was taking steroids or not but i know when i get a little bigger, and new guys start coming to the gym on gear getting to where i am in a quarter of the time its going to strike a blow to me. its ridiculous, im working so hard on diet and training, then some kid on the gear comes in a gets to my size like its nothing. im so tempted sometimes. but ill keep going natural, keep fighting the urge. by the way, i heard somewhere that steroids make your heart weak so you can't lift as someone who is about the same size as you and natural, is that true?

    • profile image

      anabolic steroids 5 years ago

      I really enjoyed this post. You describe this topic very well. I really enjoy reading your blog and I will definitely bookmark it! Keep up the interesting posts!

    • profile image

      Darren 5 years ago

      Hi guys, I'm 37 been using steroids for nearly 20 years on & off, only side effect I've had is increased body hair which get wife to shave ( not really a problem !) but I've just had all my blood work done & my results are excellent! Wat does that tell you? I no bodybuilders still competing in there 50s, no different in small dosages as going on male hormone replacement!!!

    • Kosmo profile image

      Kelley 6 years ago from California

      Thanks for the comment, king. Personally, I don't think steroids are near as dangerous as many people think, but I'm just one guy who writes a story, not a scientist or doctor. Later!

    • profile image

      king 6 years ago

      @alex you ever think maybe he ate like sh!t? Did he smoke? Was he a diabetic?. Just because you take steroids doesn't mean it was the cause of death. You can control blood pressure and cholesterol while on steroids along with many other sides. Every medication you take whether it is a tylenol has the ability to harm you. So anybody who takes any kind of medication puts their self at a risk. The heart surgery arnold had what if his drug usage lengthened the time before he would need surgery..its the same as diabetes nobody ever says this person died of diabetes its always complications of diabetes. So with how people live today there are more people that harm the "temple" by drinking, smoking, and poor diet. Wake up people!

    • Kosmo profile image

      Kelley 6 years ago from California

      Thanks for the comment, X-Con. The only way for me to present such a story is to express both sides of the issue and not show bias. Later!

    • X-Con profile image

      X-Con 6 years ago from The Free World!

      I liked how you included opinions from both sides of the issue. It was well-rounded. Thanks!

    • profile image

      row 6 years ago

      I wanna try beta steroids for 1month but I'm scare, I just want to gain some waight. What u people think?

    • profile image

      bob 6 years ago

      Very Well said Alex I was a user of steroids for about six years and am now paying the price not heart or liver related but hormone problems which trust me are not fun. When I was taking I was just like all the other guys in here in it all defensive but please take it from me they are terrible drugs that really mess you up in loads of ways and at the end of it all you just go back to half the person you were before you started them please take it from me which has experience and has learnt the hard way they just ain't worth it bless

    • Kosmo profile image

      Kelley 6 years ago from California

      I only use of steroids I advocate is for athletes to use them when healing from injuries and while under a doctor's direction. Thanks for the lengthy comment, Alex. Later!

    • profile image

      Alex 6 years ago

      I've read comments stating that "steroids do not kill." I'm pretty sure they do. For one, they raise bad cholesterol and lower good cholesterol. This has a negative impact on the circulatory system, which includes the heart. Steroids DO NOT make your bones stronger. They actually make them more porous. People on steroids are at a higher risk of getting fractured bones.

      If you don't believe that steroids can kill, look at Macho Man Randy Savage. He died at age 58 with his heart passages blocked up to 90%. Now, he may have already had bad cholesterol to begin with (genetics), he sure didn't help it by taking steroids. The thing is, yes steroids can kill in a short amount of time, but this is rare. Steroids are more likely to cause long-term damage. That is why some people say "where are the numbers?" This is because they don't believe steroids kill. Well, cigarettes kill because you get lung, throat, or mouth cancer. That's a very direct link. It makes sense. But.. with steroids, it's harder to see what's going on in your body. You can't readily tell when you have high blood pressure. You can't tell that your arteries are starting to clog. You can't tell that your liver is being damaged (if you can then you need to stop). This is why former steroids *abusers* have a boatload of health problems starting much faster in their aging cycle.

      Now, I'm not saying I'm 100% against steroids. I'm a natural bodybuilder. Been doing it for about 9 years now. I sometimes get the urge to try something and that's why I researched steroids so much.

      Ultimately, it's up to the user to determine whether or not to take steroids. Either way, what do I care? If you take them and die from them, it was your fault. Just remember, if you really believe that steroids cause no harm to the body, only good, then you are either in denial, are too stupid to understand, are ignorant to the facts, are on them right now, or you don't insight. Playing with your hormones is not a game and hormones regulate a lot of the things in your body. You can't expect to mess around with your hormones and nothing is going to happen. Common sense goes a loooong way.

    • Kosmo profile image

      Kelley 6 years ago from California

      Thanks very much for the insightful comment, Unsure2. I hope to get many more of these testimonials. Later!

    • profile image

      Unsure2 6 years ago

      It is the same as any other drug if they are used excessivley they are not good for you. I never thought they caused any problems after being in a relatinoship with someone who has been taking them for 3 years they most definitely have effects on the mind. I have read about many health related issues they cause but there isn't much information on what they do to the brain. From being with the person i have seen what they can do he would flip out over a comment he didn't like he even admitted to feeling like he did not have "feelings" anymore he felt like he was heartless. They do create issues & people need to be careful about how often they take it. It is very hard to watch a good person lose themselves to a drug.

    • Zzare profile image

      Zzare 6 years ago from Serbia

      of course they are. They are a big risk to your health, esspecially if you use them in a longer period. There are many negative side effects of steroids.

    • profile image

      Bodybuilding Steroids 6 years ago

      Some great comments so far, thought I would drop by and put my two cents in. Please forgive me if I stray off the main topic for a second. I think this might help give people a better perspective about supplements and steroids. I have been searching for a good steroid supplier for years. Finally I found this amazing steroid distributor 2nd day air legit domestic steroid source! I openly admit my steroid use and don't see anything wrong with it. It is much safer then smoking cigarettes or drinking. Can the media please stop bashing steroids. You even realize what steroids are, it's medicine! I started my bulking testosterone, decadurabolin cycle that I ordered online with , amazing service 2nd day air via Fedex!! It's our bodies if I want to go pump 2000 of Sustanon , 1000mg of decadrabolin and 100mg of dianabol a day let me! Life is not fair learn to adapt. Funny how much negative attention steroids get. Then you have products like cigarettes killing thousands of people per year. You know how many people died of steroids last year...Zero. I have been using steroids off and on for 10 years never had any side effects, I look amazing 6'0 220lbs 6% bodyfat. If anyone is interested in more information on steroids and good sources check this site out - legit source - buy steroids online. In my opinion people smart people who use steroids properly are actually healthier then non-users.

    • profile image

      Dianabol 7 years ago

      Great article, thanks for sharing.

    • Kosmo profile image

      Kelley 7 years ago from California

      Thanks for the comment, mojefballa. Keep on hubbing. Later!

    • mojefballa profile image

      Ikeji Chinweuba 7 years ago from Nigeria

      Wow,interestingly good and informative hub you did in here.Thanks for sharing this piece of work which really enlightened me a lot.

    • profile image

      roid 7 years ago

      i am not english that why my spelling is bad but i am going to post another coment again later keep it on this time

    • Kosmo profile image

      Kelley 7 years ago from California

      People have to leave comments that people can read - no run-on sentences, bad spelling and punctuation! This one is better, though it could still use a period! Later, Mr. Roid.

    • profile image

      roid 7 years ago

      you removed my comment i guess you only let those mgs stay on here that are negative about stroids most of the people who give negative views about steroids are not even on them or never took them coz if they did they would understand that they are not has bad for you that people make out to be

    • dave360 profile image

      dave360 7 years ago

      No doubt that steroids are a big risk to someone health. For more information

    • profile image

      Source Check 7 years ago

      I am with loveofnight. There is reality and then what the media portrays. You really have to research it and learn the truth.

    • Kosmo profile image

      Kelley 7 years ago from California

      Thanks for the tips, seothriller. I'll pass it on. Later!

    • profile image

      seothriller 7 years ago

      Anabolic Steroids The side effects of HGH are not as many, but consult the doctor before taking them and on the onset of the effects. Safe, legal supplements are more effective than ever and can bring you results without all the baggage of steroids. It's just putting more energy into every thing you do so you'll burn more calories..Stretch your body, move your legs,and ride an air bicycle before you get out of bed. Don't slough down the hall to the kitchen, Even if its only for a minute. This is one minute you're burning more than one calorie. Hold your shoulders straight . It burns more calories to have good posture. For more information visit

    • profile image

      Steroids uk 7 years ago

      most steroids prevent blood clotting tha's why u need to stop them prior to surgery :-)

    • profile image

      buy steroids 7 years ago

      it's sad that the majority of anti steroid articles are written by thoise that have never even tried them :-(

    • Kosmo profile image

      Kelley 7 years ago from California

      Thanks for the data, Steroids. My story does contain some generalizations. I just quote the sources because I am neither a doctor nor a scientist. Are you one of those? Also, as far as I can remember I didn't mention blood clots as a possible danger for injecting steroids. At any rate, thank you for bringing it up. Later!

    • profile image

      steroids 7 years ago

      Some major generalisation going on here. For instance, liver damage is only caused by oral anabolics. Injectables bypass the liver proccessing. Another one is blood clots - any injection can cause these, if not done properly, not only steroid injections.

    • Kosmo profile image

      Kelley 8 years ago from California

      Hey, Deltoids, you obviously didn't read my article! I stayed middle-of-the-road throughout, though I concluded that steroid use is probably all right when they're used to help athletes heal from injuries. Personally, I think people ought to be able to take them if they want, but if you're going to play professional sports, be aware of the consequences. Moreover, it's hard for somebody like me who has never taken steroids to know how they affect one's body and mind. In addition, Alzado made the aforementioned statement about his steroid use shortly before his death, so he wouldn't have had much time to "retract" it. If he did do, prove it to me. Later!

    • profile image

      deltoids 8 years ago

      Lyle Alzado retracted all the statements you included in your "article". If you lied about that, what else did you lie about?. Steroids are illegal, due to ignorant politicians and jealous haters, so the benefits will be kept underground and people that could use the help will never know about it. Your ignorant "article" only makes things worse...

    • Kosmo profile image

      Kelley 8 years ago from California

      Thanks for the comments Loveofnight and Immartin! It's hard to tell how damaging steroid use may be. Like all other drugs, taken in moderation their use could be acceptable, though the folks at Major League Baseball would beg to differ, I'm sure. Later!

    • loveofnight profile image

      loveofnight 8 years ago from Baltimore, Maryland

      i know that i might get flack for this but i don't see what the big deal is.i know that this stuff is supposed to enhance the body but i do not believe that there is anything that you can get out of the body that isn't already there.a hypnotist once said that you can hypnotize someone to kill but there are those that no matter what you put into their head will not.if it is not in there nature to murder even under hypnosis they won't. i know that the abuse of anything can have a negative effect.roids may make you stronger or faster than normal but there will always be someone out there that dose it naturally.then again maybe i need to research it further to understand the big deal because i am not there yet.

    • lmmartin profile image

      lmmartin 8 years ago from Alberta and Florida

      I find it amusing the question even comes up. Can anyone believe we can mess with our bodies' chemistry without deleterious effects? Great hub.

    • profile image

      Katiem2 8 years ago

      Wow, good to know!


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