LIVE LONGER WITH ANABOLIC STEROIDS?
Muscular Development|December 2020
How is it possible for anabolic steroids to increase life span when they have been connected to all of these life-threatening diseases?
Michael J. Rudolph, Ph.D. Senior Science Editor

Anabolic steroids are the most widely used performance-enhancing drug. Elite bodybuilders have been using anabolic steroids to build muscle mass and strength for quite some time now.1 In fact, the use of anabolic steroids has likely increased over time, as one study investigating their use by competitive bodybuilders showed that 77 percent of the respondents reported using anabolic steroids. While anabolic steroid use is very high among topflight bodybuilders, the truth is the vast majority of steroid users are not elite bodybuilders or professional athletes, but rather, individuals simply wanting to look leaner and more muscular. In fact, steroid use in America has become quite the public health problem, with roughly 3 million individuals in the United States having utilized these drugs.2

Muscle Growth and Strength

The reason for the widespread consumption of anabolic steroids is they do, indeed, vigorously enhance muscle growth and strength. The primary anabolic effect from anabolic steroid use is caused when the steroid molecule binds and activates the steroid receptor within the muscle cell, which alters the shape of the steroid receptor. The change in shape of the activated steroid receptor causes it to translocate into the nucleus of the muscle cell, where it can directly bind to DNA – triggering the production of certain protein molecules within the muscle cell that have the ability to increase muscle growth and strength. For instance, one of the target proteins synthesized in response to anabolic steroid use is the muscle protein follistatin, which directly blocks the negative effects of the muscle-depleting molecule myostatin, which ultimately results in muscle growth.3

Adverse Side Effects

The positive influence on muscle growth from anabolic steroid use does not come without negative side effects, as anabolic steroids also trigger protein synthesis in non-muscle cells, such as the prostate, which promotes the unwanted enlargement of the prostate gland – increasing the probability of developing prostate cancer. Anabolic steroids have also been shown to dramatically impair cardiac function by pathologically increasing cardiac muscle hypertrophy, which decreases the capacity of the heart to pump blood throughout the body.4 In addition to the undesirable effects of anabolic steroids on the function of cardiac tissue, steroids – particularly the 17-alpha-alkylated anabolic steroids like Anadrol5 – reduce the levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (the “good cholesterol”) while increasing low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels (the “bad cholesterol”), which is a well-established blood lipid profile associated with cardiovascular disease.6

Improved Health and Increased Life Span

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