I recently watched Bigger Stronger Faster, a documentary on steroid use, and was struck by their claim that commonly accepted health risks are not proven and seem to mostly be accepted because of intense government marketing (a situation not dissimilar to the misleading nutritional recommendations published by the USDA and others). In particular, they claimed that "roid rage" is a myth (anyone who was going to go into a rage had that in their personality anyway) and that links to e.g. cancer are speculative and very little research has been done to this effect.

In order to try to track this down, I went to the relevant wikipedia page and found the following paragraph on health risks:

Health risks can be produced by long-term use or excessive doses of anabolic steroids[citation needed]. These effects include harmful changes in cholesterol levels (increased low-density lipoprotein and decreased high-density lipoprotein), acne, high blood pressure, liver damage (mainly with oral steroids), dangerous changes in the structure of the left ventricle of the heart[citation needed]. Conditions pertaining to hormonal imbalances such as gynecomastia and testicular atrophy may also be caused by anabolic steroids.

What's notable is that citations are needed on this entire set of claims.

So the question is, can anyone fill in these citations? I would like to see viable studies (or popular works that reference these studies) that can either back up or debunk these claims?


2 Answers 2


This Mayo Clinic article has some in-depth info of the side effects of performance enhancing drugs. They point out that

Risks -
Many athletes take anabolic steroids at doses that are much higher than those prescribed for medical reasons, and most of what is known about the drugs' effects on athletes comes from observing users. It is impossible for researchers to design studies that would accurately test the effects of large doses of steroids on athletes, because giving participants such high doses would be unethical. This means that the effects of taking anabolic steroids at very high doses haven't been well studied.

The article covers steroids, designer steroids and other performance enhancers. If you are considering taking any, check out the article.


I used to work for a pharmaceutical company that sold a growth hormone and the off label usage was extremely high. I went trough all the trials and the number of side effects reported in those actual cases was scary.

To an extent I agree with the "roid rage" explanation but things like heart attacks and cancer cases reported whilst on treatment was abnormally high when compared to the general population.

Everything in life is about risk-reward, if the reward is greater than the risk you are willing to take then do it, otherwise don't.

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