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Prescription Anabolic Steroids - Australian Perspective on Steroids

Anabolic Steroids Anabolic steroids have been used by athletes for more than 3-4 decades and are surrounded by a lot of myths, superstitions and false information. Every time an athlete performs well in the sports arena, there is suspicion of anabolic drug usage. These drugs have received more bad press than even Arsenic. When reading the literature, one gets the feeling that growing breasts like Dolly Parton is common and that one is never far from an imminent death from a heart problem.

The side effects of these drugs have been hyped up and one gets the feeling that if you do not die from a heart problem, you will get a liver cancer. All the literature in anabolic steroids is repeated from the 1950s and there have been no controlled trials or studies to determine if this is all true. Anabolic steroids are given to patients in clinical medicine but as yet no complaints have been received or any unusual side effects noticed.

There was a time once when the use of anabolic steroids was laughed off. Even the prestigious American College of Sport Medicine once claimed that these drugs were essentially useless- 10 years later in 1984, the college reversed its stand. No one is conclusive about their views on anabolic steroids- Are the drugs harmful or is bodybuilding BAD?

Despite all the bad publicity, the use of anabolic steroids is at an all time high. The exact number of individuals who use these drugs remains unknown but is believed to be in the thousands.

Myths about Anabolic Steroids

One universal reading on anabolic steroids is that they are bad. Building the body with anabolic steroids will kill you. Such myths and erroneous statements abound everywhere, eve in medical textbooks. Much of the hysteria behind the anabolic steroids has been propagated by health care workers and the federal agencies that know very little about drugs and know very little about science. All the literature on anabolic steroids for the past 4 decades has been collected from medical patients who have been given these steroids.
Bodybuilding with Steroids
And the documentation of side effects or complications has been pretty poor. Despite years of use, there are no clinical studies or trials to document the good or bad about anabolic steroids. There are a lot of anecdotal reports about anabolic steroids and their side effects. But anecdotal reports have zero value when it comes to practicing evidence based medicine.

Almost everyone who writes about anabolic steroids has characterized them as drugs which are dangerous, with lethal side effects and will cause cancer and so on. One would think anabolic steroids were worse than GUNS.

Animal work

Despite the use of anabolic steroids by millions of individuals both in and out of the hospital, the question of malignancy is confusing. There are no large numbers of liver cancers. Only sporadic cases exist in the literature. Many health care staff that have written on this topic but have failed to show any evidence that anabolic steroid cause cancers in mass epidemics. Evaluation of the literature reveals that only anecdotal reports of cancers occur. Animal work has failed to show that cancers can occur after administration of anabolic steroids. However, if a cancer is present and a steroid is administrated, the cancer will grow faster.

Despite all the hype about anabolic steroid and heart attacks, there is not much factual evidence asides from anecdotal reports. There are no clinical studies or trials to show that steroids increase coronary disease or any type of heart disease. The one thing that is known about anabolic steroids is that they do increase the levels of cholesterol and lower HDL levels. However, these parameters reverse when the drugs are stopped.

Australian Study

Studies on Anabolic Steroids One of the best studies on anabolic steroids came out of Australia some years ago. This study actually administered prescription anabolic steroids to athletes and followed them. This is the only such study of its kind and has interesting results. The aim of the study was to determine what would happen if anabolic steroids were legally given to a group of athletes and follow up was done for 3-5 years. Prior to entering the study, all athletes had to have no prior use of anabolic steroids.

Before the study, all individuals had a physical exam and base line blood work. All instructions were given on diet and types of exercise. Health food supplements were forbidden.

The anabolic steroid of choice was methenolone 20 mg/day for 7 weeks. At the end of the duration, all individuals were re-assessed and blood work was repeated. The 2nd course of the steroid was given 7 weeks after discontinuation of the last dose.

Studies on Anabolic Steroids

Educational seminars were administered. Education emphasized that heavy training is required and steroids alone will not do the trick.

The steroids used in the study included:

Methenolonemethenolone Oxymetholoneoxymetholone
Testosteronetestosterone esters


Bodybuilding picture

Reasons for enrolling in the study:

  • bodybuilding
  • some simply wanted to exercise
  • too thin bodies
  • others want to attract females
  • some wanted to lose fat content

There were an insignificant number of homosexuals who wanted a chance to meet muscular men.

In this study, the majority of patients had no complication and there was not a single mortality. There was not a single individual who had Roid rage or any other recorded CNS symptom

  • average weight gain was 2.8 k
  • lean mass increased 3.7 kg
  • fat reduction was 1 kg
Blood work
  • mild rises in cholesterol and liver enzymes
  • HDL levels decreased

All these changes reversed in about 44 weeks.

Athlete Concerns about the Study

  • 50% did not continue after the first course of steroids
  • 15% thought the dose was too low
  • 35% saw very little effect and were worried about side effects
  • 10% reached the target weight but were no longer interested in continuing
  • Many wanted more rapid results
  • Many wanted higher doses
  • Many wanted injectable
  • Many claimed that they worked hard and trained heavily, but the desired result was not achieved

After getting a suitable partner, many athletes realized that they were not using heavy loads. Results improved with a partner and the demand for steroid weaned.

No blood parameter was affected during the study and no side effects recorded.

Reasons why some individuals did not gain weight:

  • failure to train
  • inadequate diet
  • illness
  • work related
  • emotional problems


Photobucket The old myth that anabolic steroids are dangerous should be put to rest. While there is a lot of negative publicity surrounding these drugs, most of this publicity is based on false beliefs and with no scientific backing. In fact education on anabolic steroids is the key to this mis-information. The majority of health care workers including doctors would not even be able to tell a molecule of cholesterol from a structure of an anabolic steroid. And the most would not even have a clue to the dosing or have an idea why these drugs are used in clinical medicine.

The lack of basic knowledge has fueled many misconceptions and rumors. This has also led to unnecessary stress and countless unnecessary testing. The premature effort by the medical and legal establishment to ban these steroids without any evidence has led to a massive black market. This market contains many anabolic steroids, - many of which are fake, counterfeit and contain many dangerous chemicals. The aim today is not to simply ban the steroid but to educate the athlete and the health care provider.

The ban on anabolic steroids and the frightening stories have gone unheeded by athletes. The use of anabolic steroids has gone up a thousand fold in the last 3 decades. Not only are these drugs being used by professional but amateurs at all levels of sports.

Most governmental agencies have not helped in the matter either. When an athlete is caught with the anabolic steroid in the body, some type off punishment is always meted out. Rather than helping the individual, the system has turned out to be adversarial. And while the system does make claims of complications from anabolic steroids, the reports are very few and far between.

Drug testing industry was primarily developed because of the strong belief that whenever performance excelled, drug may have been involved. This is inspite of repeated statements that drugs do not always provide a beneficial effect.

Use of anabolic steroids will most likely continue. The simple reason is that athletes who use it know that these drugs have very side effects. Millions have taken it and there has been no hysteria among the athletes- only among health care professionals who have not bothered to read the literature. Because many anabolic steroids are not manufactured today, a lot of fake and counterfeit products exist on the market. And this is where the problem arises. Impurities and contaminants in these products are far more likely to cause harm than the actual drug. In the short term, there is zero evidence that anabolic steroids can cause harm.

This fascinating study from Australia revealed that administering anabolic steroids under controlled conditions can help athletes. While the doses were far lower than what is available on the black market, the results revealed that these drugs are safe and have minimal or no side effects- in fact, all the side effects were reversible. The study suggests that health care professional have to be educated on the administration of these drugs for athletes. The currently available literature in textbooks and on the internet is mostly false and riddled with inaccuracies.

Even though many textbooks are filled with postulated side effects of these drugs. None was seen in this study. Perhaps the individuals who wrote the “BIBLE” on anabolic steroids need to revise their text.

The Final point: Despite decades of hype and hysteria about anabolic steroids, anabolic steroids when used in a controlled fashion at low doses are not harmful. Why people are so against Building a body is a mystery.


American College of Sports Medicine (1977). Position on the use and abuse of anabolic- androgenic steroids in sport. Medical Sci. Sports Ex 9: 11-13.

American College of Sports Medicine (1984). Position on the use and abuse of anabolic- androgenic steroids in sport. Medical Sci. Sports Ex 19: 13-18.

Cszaky TZ (1972). Doping. Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness 12: 117-23.

Haupt HA, Rovere GD (1984). Anabolic steroids: a review of the literature. American Journal of Sports Medicine 1 2: 469-84.

Lesna M, Taylor W (1986). Liver lesions in BALB/C mice induced by anabolic androgens with and without pre-treatment with diethylnitrosamine. Journal of Steroid Biochemistry 24: 449-53.

Melnik B, Jansen T, Grabbe S. Abuse of anabolic-androgenic steroids and bodybuilding acne: an underestimated health problem. J Dtsch Dermatol Ges. 2007 Feb; 5(2):110-7. Review. English, German.


Petersson A, Garle M, Granath F, Thiblin I. Morbidity and mortality in patients testing positively for the presence of anabolic androgenic steroids in connection with receiving medical care. A controlled retrospective cohort study. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2006 Feb 28; 81(3):215-20.

Rambaldi A, Gluud C. Anabolic-androgenic steroids for alcoholic liver disease.
Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2006 Oct 18 ;( 4):CD003045. Review.

Socas L, Zumbado M, Pérez-Luzardo O, Ramos A, Pérez C, Hernández JR, Boada LD.
Hepatocellular adenomas associated with anabolic androgenic steroid abuse in bodybuilders: a report of two cases and a review of the literature. Br J Sports Med. 2005 May; 39(5):e27. Review.

Talih F, Fattal O, Malone D Jr. Anabolic steroid abuse: psychiatric and physical costs.
Cleve Clin J Med. 2007 May; 74(5):341-4, 346, 349-52. Review.

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