How Do Steroids Affect The Body?

How Do Steroids Affect The Body?
Steroids are popular. It is estimated that over one million Americans’ have used steroids. [1]
Furthermore, in the UK approximately 132,000 16-59 year old people take steroids according to a study from 2016/7. [2]
LAST UPDATED: April 2019 by Ben.This article features cited references. 

Side Effects of Steroids

The promise of a ripped, lean and muscular body akin to a renaissance statute carved in Italy is too much of a temptation for some.

This is regardless of potentially breaking the law and risking long term health effects.


Research suggests that around 3.3% of the global population have used anabolic steroids to build muscle and strength without a medical requirement. [3]

You may think that these men are athletes looking to gain a competitive edge, you may actually be surprised to learn that of all the men questioned about their steroid use history, the majority of users were merely for recreational purposes.

Therefore, they were just normal gym goers that had no professional gain from taking steroids and getting bigger.

With such a large number of men using steroids and purely for reasons other than competition, you would be mistaken to think it is completely harmless and safe.

Now, if we are to take in to account that countless pieces of historical research and evidence that concludes steroid abuse can lead to a number of issues and complications as those listed below:

  • Kidney failure
  • Liver damage
  • Enlarged heart (Rich Pian’s autopsy revealed his heart was around 3 times the size of a normal, healthy man’s heart)
  • Lowered sperm count
  • Shrunk testicles
  • Erectile dysfunction

However, further research hailing from Brazil has added another potential health concern to the list.

Their research suggests that anabolic steroid abuse could provide the foundations for a heart attack. [4]

Plus, there’s other studies that have linked steroid abuse with the failure of numerous organs. [5]

Case Study

Let’s not forget the coroners report from Rich Piana’s death.

This report highlighted multiple organ issues, sadly, shortly before his death Rich believed he was in good health.

If you skip to 08:25 you can watch where Rich discusses about having a urine sample, then a CAT scan.

Even after all of the tests it was discovered that he had no issue with either his liver or kidneys.

Rich goes on to explain in the video that passing a kidney stone was his ‘wake up’ call, and to make sure his health was on track.

That video was posted on the 7th March 2017.

Rich then went on to die later that year in August on the 25th.

He goes on to advise his viewers to drink lots of water, regulate protein intake and also vary protein sources.

Rich then says that “everything’s good” and finding out that “everything is great”.

The doctor told him that his kidneys were fine and that his liver wasn’t terrible. Although his liver enzymes were elevated.

Therefore, even with some health checks  merely 5 months prior to his death, it seemed that everything was okay.


picture of a jacked bodybuilder and a human heart


The results of the study showed that a quarter of healthy men aged 29 or over who used steroids had a plaque build-up within their arteries, known as atherosclerosis.

The key finding here is that of all the other men who were part of the trial, be they sedentary or those who lifted weights, none of the non-steroid users showed signs of artery plaque.

The risk of a plaque build-up in the arteries is twofold.

  1. It restricts blood flow by reducing the diameter of the arteries making it harder to pump blood around the bloodstream and increases blood pressure (hypertension).
  2. If I piece of the plaque breaks away it could then become stuck in the artery and thus massively restricting blood flow.

It is either of these two issues that are causes of heart attacks.


picture of an artery lined with cholesterol

It was also noted that of the two cholesterol’s those men who used steroids had less of the good cholesterol known as HDL than non-steroid users.

This is key, because HDL actually helps transport away the bad cholesterol known as LDL from the blood stream before it manages to build up and line the arteries, again, restricting blood flow.

It is theorized that the effects of steroids on the liver has an effect on enzymes found in the liver which then increase the bad cholesterol while holding back the development of the good cholesterol which can flush the bad from the blood stream.

It is this imbalance of cholesterol that can contribute to cardiovascular disease.

Heart Health

Researchers are also unsure whether the negative effects of steroids on the heart and blood pressure are reversible, in fact, current thoughts are that it may actually be irreversible.

Now, these latest findings are not absolutely concrete and more tests need to be carried out, but the initial findings look to place more negative effects on the use of anabolic steroids. [6]

These effects are also not restricted to older men, it is affecting younger men who otherwise would seem fit and healthy. Putting them at a higher risk of heart disease.

Natural methods to increase testosterone

If you are looking to increase your testosterone levels and natural growth hormone secretion there are a number of ways to do this.


Yes, something as simple (is it really?) as nutrition can have a positive or even negative effect on your testosterone levels.

Eating foods such as red meats, corn, oysters, turkey, kidney beans, nuts, salmon, avocados, cranberries and even the humble Brussels sprouts can all contribute to increased testosterone levels.

However, eating fatty and un-nutritious junk food can contribute to lowering testosterone.


Exercise such as progressive resistance training is excellent to stimulate testosterone secretion. [7]

For the best results, ensure that you include compound exercises in to your exercise regime.

Compound exercises use more than one joint, therefore think about:

  • Deadlifts
  • Squats
  • Bench press
  • Shoulder press
  • Bent over row
  • Pull ups

These big, heavy and multi-joint exercises promote the most secretion of testosterone, so do them.

On the other hand, too much cardiovascular exercise such as ultra-long distance running or excessive cycling can lower testosterone levels.

rugby players beach


In fact, it is not so much supplements but the ingredients found in supplements.

Anyone can bring out some pills and stick a label on a bottle saying they are a testosterone booster, however, if it is loaded with unproven ingredients, it is nothing more than a bottle of ineffective pills.

If you are looking for an effective testosterone booster, ensure that it includes the following and scientifically proven ingredients for maximum effect:

  • Fenugreek
  • Vitamin D3
  • Vitamin K2
  • D-Aspartic Acid
  • Vitamin B6
  • Zinc
  • Magnesium
  • Oyster extract
  • Panax Ginseng
  • Creatine

If it includes these ingredients and in the appropriate doses, (D-Aspartic Acid requires over 2000mg daily to be effective) you are on to a good thing.

All proven and effective natural testosterone boosters contain natural ingredients that are there to stimulate more testosterone production rather than load your body full of synthetic testosterone.


Where shall we start with the conclusion?

We could use what is probably the most well known case study regarding the potential health risks of steroid abuse.

Rich Piana clearly used huge amounts of anabolic steroids to enhance his physique.

He was aware of that, and the risks involved. He also promoted a safe use of steroids, even if he did not necessarily practice it himself.

However, Rich had the resources to lead the healthiest lifestyle he possibly could.

And, even with all of his precautions and his tests he still fell foul to the risks that excess steroid use prompted.

Final Thoughts

The real question is how will steroids affect you? You personally?

You may have a heart condition that you were not aware of, and steroids could make matters worse.

Or you may start to get a little carried away and start taken more and more by increasing the doses.

The health concerns are there. And even so, many people still take the risk and use anabolic steroids.

Even so, there are natural ways to help increase your testosterone. The results may not be as impressive, and take a while longer but the risks are eliminated.









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How do steroids affect the body?
Article Name
How do steroids affect the body?
This article takes a look at how steroids may affect the body.

Ben BA(Hons), PGCert

Ben established this site to be a free resource in 2015. Since then it has gained over half a million visits. He has always been interested in sport and he started playing rugby at the age of 6 represented his town, county and school. Ben also enjoys cycling, has started skiing and is in the Army Reserve representing his Regiment as part of the 150 Regimental Shooting Team. He holds a bachelor's and postgraduate degree in sport exercise & nutrition.

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