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Some of you old bastards (like me) might remember the book from the 80s titled Death in the Locker Room. It was a book that, in my opinion, was typical of the Nancy Regan era in that it fell in line with the “Just Say No” drug campaign, with commercials that showed an egg frying in a pan with the mantra “This is your brain on drugs.” Steroids came on big in the 80s, pushing out of the subcultures of bodybuilding and weight lifting and into track and field and other professional sports. This book was written to basically deter steroid use under the pretense that steroids will kill you.

I was only a teen when the book came out (I was still in high school), and I read FLEX magazine for the bible that it was at that time. I wanted nothing more than to get, as my elitefts™ shirts say, “hyooge.” Even as a dumbass teen, I figured that even if steroids weren’t a good idea, they likely weren’t killing people left and right because guys like Arnold didn’t seem to be very dead or appear to be sliding six feet under anytime soon. I was buying the notion that steroids would kill me about as much as I was buying that my brain would fry in a skillet if I smoked reefer. (I was going to go with “blunt,” but reefer was a more accurate 80s colloquialism. I hope my efforts are appreciated.)

Herein lies the problem. It appears that it has taken me 32 years to come back around to where I think there was more to that book than I thought at the time. The reality is that bodybuilders, strength athletes and just regular Joes who have trained for years have started dropping over dead, and the bodies are beginning to stack up so to speak.

There always seemed to be a lack of body bags back then to back up the argument that steroids were killing people, or was it simply that we didn’t have the reach that we have today with social media? There could have been deaths that simply weren’t discussed because those deaths didn’t make it into the papers or on to the news because that was really the only way we would have heard about them. Today, we hear everything in real time because social media is so far reaching. Had we had social media then, would we have heard the same things then that we do now?


For those pro-steroid people reading this who are getting more and more pissed as they get deeper into this article, settle down. Even if you don’t believe that steroids kill, you have to admit that there is quite a body count within the last four or five years of guys who have used steroids extensively dying from either heart-related deaths or kidney failure. This is essentially undeniable I would think. Whether it's coincidence or the numbers are in line with the regular, non-steroid using population can be debated forever.

This list of premature deaths of people who have admitted to extensive steroid use is alarming to me. It seems the typical age for heart-related deaths and kidney failure in this demographic is roughly late 40s and sometimes early 50s. To a 23-year-old kid, sure, this seems pretty old, but I can assure you that when you get to be 45 and still feel 23 (don't laugh you young bastard; it's true), this could be concerning to you based on your past decisions.

Whether steroids cause premature death, I'm unsure. I'm not a doctor and I don’t play one on the internet. Just because a doctor says that steroids will kill you doesn’t make it true. Even the dumbest doctor is more intelligent than I am, but let’s be honest here. Many doctors have matter of fact opinions on a lot of shit and, when you start asking more questions, you find out that they don’t know as much as they thought they did and they get irritated that you're asking so many questions. I remember clearly how in 1988 I was going through the Physician’s Desk Reference (PDR) in class (because looking up steroids was far more fun than doing algebra), and for every single steroid compound listed in the PDR, there was an asterisk that stated clearly: “anabolic steroids do not increase athletic performance.” If you read something so stupid in such a well-respected journal, you tend to lose trust in other opinions from the medical community.

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What isn't debatable is that steroids will increase the risk of heart disease and potential kidney issues. Now just because you smoke cigarettes doesn’t mean you'll get cancer. Just because you use steroids doesn’t mean you'll die from them. Just know that use will increase the risk, and these two areas where risk is increased correlates with the large amount of untimely deaths in the last four or five years. Steroid compounds increase blood viscosity (rbc/hemoglobin/hematocrit). This makes the heart work harder and it makes the blood more likely to clot (read stroke). The size of the heart will increase as well. A normal and common side effect of steroid use is high blood pressure, and high blood pressure over the long term will contribute to poor kidney function. Though some individuals will have more severe symptoms than others, the side effects listed here are undeniable.

To be clear, I didn't write this article to take a stance either against steroid use or for it. I don’t care what you or anyone else does with your life or your body. That's your business, not mine. The point that I'm trying to make is that we need to take a much closer look at what appears to be a connection to steroid use and a lot of guys not living to see 50 years old. In my estimation, the majority of long-term steroid users don't think that steroid use is a health concern. At least if you are going to make the decision to use steroids, you should want to have accurate information on what the consequences could be long term. I know I would want to know, and I think we need to take a closer look. Just sayin’.