– used to increase muscle mass and increase athletic performance.
These performance-enhancing drugs have harmful side effects, for example in men they include breast enlargement, hair loss, low testosterone levels, erectile dysfunction, and an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, liver or kidney failure. However, not much is known about their effects years after stopping their use.
In one study, researchers examined 64 healthy men between the ages of 18 and 50 who performed recreational strength training in Denmark. Of these men, 28 used anabolic steroids, 22 were former steroid users, and 14 had never used these steroids.
The researchers estimated how much blood flowed to the heart muscles while resting and exercising, Using a Positron Emission Tomography-Computed Tomography (PET-CT) scan with the radioactive tracer Rubidium-82, it found that both past and present users had poor blood flow to the heart.
Uncovering Hidden Threats
The findings show that former steroid users are more prone to heart disease than those who have never used them.
“Previous studies have shown that heart function almost returns to normal after anabolic steroids are stopped, but our study shows that former anabolic steroid users have an increased risk of heart disease years after cardiac microcirculation — blood flow through the smallest vessels in the bloodstream — is stopped. circulatory system – appears to be permanently impaired,” said lead author Dr. Yeliz Bulut said. “Prior use of anabolic steroids may be a new risk factor for the development of cardiovascular disease.”
In another study, Dr. Bulut and colleagues collected questionnaires and blood samples to measure testosterone levels from three groups of men between the ages of 18 and 50: 89 current anabolic steroid users, 61 former steroid users, and 30 men who had never used steroids before. .
They found it former users of anabolic steroids report a worse quality of life in their physical and mental health, such as fatigue, social functioning, and emotional well-being, despite having stopped years ago.
In addition, the same group had lower testosterone levels compared to those who had never used steroids.
Anabolic steroid results
Previous studies have shown that men experience withdrawal symptoms such as depression and low motivation, and testosterone levels are lower immediately after stopping steroid use.
“Our study adds to the growing literature that impairment of quality of life in former anabolic steroid users persists for years after cessation and can be caused by both withdrawal and/or hypogonadal symptoms due to a sudden drop in blood testosterone levels,” said Dr. Bulut. “Unfortunately, a worse quality of life may cause former users to start using these steroids again.”
Both studies included small numbers of anabolic steroid users, ex-users, and non-users. Dr. Bulut and his team now plan to enroll more men in the study to assess both of these links with past steroid abuse on a larger scale.
“Our preliminary findings suggest that former anabolic steroid users are more likely to develop heart disease and have a lower quality of life, but we need to confirm these results with larger studies and examine how the risk changes according to years of use and/or cessation,” said Dr. Bulut. .
“Among former users, steroid side effects last longer than we previously knew. We hope that our findings on these long-term health risks will discourage men from using anabolic androgenic steroids.”