Young steroid users at increased risk of heart disease

by Marion Downey
Young steroid users at increased risk of heart disease

Steroid abuse is associated with increased risk of heart disease in otherwise healthy young men, an Australian study of deaths involving the drugs has found.

Researchers at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) at UNSW and the New South Wales Department of Forensic Medicine examined all 24 steroid-related deaths in NSW between 1996 - 2012. Extensive heart disease, including left ventricular hypertrophy and thickening of the arteries, was present in half the cases. This is notable considering the sample comprised exclusively of men aged 22-48 years, with an average age of 32.

Although all the cases showed evidence of steroid use, these were not the direct cause of death. All but one of the sample were polydrug users and accidental drug toxicity accounted for two thirds of the deaths, either alone or in combination with . Violent deaths – either suicide or homicide – accounted for a quarter of cases.

Lead researcher Professor Shane Darke of NDARC said the findings added to emerging evidence that steroid users are often polydrug users, and that steroid and psychostimulant use may damage the heart.

"Nearly all of the 24 deceased men that we examined in this study showed the classic signs of , such as overdeveloped muscles and testicular atrophy," Darke said.

"We also found that nearly all of the individuals who had been using together with psychostimulants had a lot of damage to their cardiovascular system. It appears that combined stimulant and steroid use increases a person's risk of developing .

"Ironically many steroid users are also keen health and fitness enthusiasts and this is borne out by our sample, which included personal trainers, body builders and security guards.

"But the vast majority of users are unaware of the health dangers of their lifestyle.

"Cardiovascular disease, particularly in such young people, signifies the very opposite of good health," Darke said.

He added that many young male users are in danger of reproductive health issues attributable to testicular atrophy.

Among the psychoactive drugs detected were psychostimulants (present in 66.7% of cases), followed by benzodiazapines (45.8%), opioids (37.5%) and alcohol (25%). Psychostimulant toxicity was the direct cause of death in eight of the 24 deaths and opioid overdose was the direct cause in seven. Over half of the cases (54%) showed evidence of recent injecting drug use.

Toxicology results showed testosterone was the most commonly used steroid among the 24 men. Two thirds of the men were employed at their time of death.

More information: Journal of Forensic Science newsroom.unsw.edu.au/sites/def… nline%2019%20Feb.pdf

Related Stories

Scapegoating steroids is harmful

date Jan 13, 2014

Scott Griffiths is a PhD candidate at the University of Sydney's School of Psychology who is currently conducting research on muscle dysmorphia, appearance and performance-enhancing drug use.

Recommended for you

US Ebola patient's health improves again

date 53 minutes ago

An American healthcare worker who contracted the dangerous Ebola virus while working in Sierra Leone has improved and is now listed in fair condition, hospital officials said Monday.

Endoscopes linked to outbreak of drug-resistant E. coli

date 1 hour ago

An outbreak of a novel Escherichia coli (E. coli) strain resistant to antibiotics has been linked to contaminated endoscopes in a Washington state hospital. The study indicates that industry standard clea ...

Fighting back against superbugs

date 3 hours ago

Antibiotics—and antibiotic resistance—are in the news once again, with announcements by McDonald's and Costco that they will eliminate antibiotics that are important to human medicine from use in the ...

Harnessing the power of microbes as therapeutics

date 4 hours ago

A new report recently released by the American Academy of Microbiology discusses how specific microbes can be modified to enhance their therapeutic potential for treating human diseases such as cancer and antibiotic resistant ...

New genetic link found for alcohol-related liver cirrhosis

date 4 hours ago

In most people, any liver damage that might occur from drinking alcohol is reversible. However, in 25 to 30 percent of alcoholics what begins as accumulation of fat in the liver progresses to inflammation, fibrosis and ultimately ...

Could camel antibodies protect humans from MERS?

date 4 hours ago

Antibodies from dromedary camels protected uninfected mice from Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), and helped infected mice expunge the disease, according to a study published online March 18th in the ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.