Anabolic steroids cause a lot of undesirable effects on the body. Hair loss, acne, Gynecomastia, and alteration of the body’s natural testosterone production are among the most common. However, whenever the lay-person mentioned steroids and the side effects, the most common response usually pertains to liver damage.
“Steroids hurt your liver”. This monotonous phrase has been used to scare generations of people away from steroid use. Perhaps it’s because it’s a tangible organ, and easier to comprehend than brain hormone secretions, it was used for medical fearmongering. Perhaps it’s because liver disease is a major problem in our society (although the vast majority of that is from alcohol abuse). Perhaps it’s just because the liver is a misunderstood organ, and tests of liver enzymes are so often analyzed incorrectly. Whatever the reason, when it comes to steroids, the liver takes the brunt of the blame for why they are bad.
The liver is your body’s filter. If you ingest something, your liver will know about it. It will filter the compounds in this food and use them for your body’s needs. As the liver operates, it releases enzymes, which are measured by doctors to ascertain the level of work being done by the liver. This baseline number of liver enzymes determines how healthy your liver is. And when you begin using oral steroids, this number jumps, and many people panic.
Aspirin makes the liver enzyme number jump also. So does a cold beer. So does McDonalds food. Much of the environment, and just about everything we ingest, affects the liver, since it filters everything. To place complete trust in the liver enzyme count as the sole measurement for health, when it is being influenced by so many unnamed factors, is scientifically unsound.
Instead, look at the data. What to studies show? Rats that are given steroids stay within normal levels for liver enzymes. Bodybuilders who are administered oral steroids do have elevated liver enzyme levels above normal. However, in all cases, within one year, they return to normal.
Perhaps the stigma comes from abuse. Of course, if you never come off steroids and never give the enzymes time to recover, they never will. Or, the cause might be cross-abuses. A bodybuilder consuming 6 beers per night along with his anabolic steroids is going to be delivering a lot of wear and tear to the liver – but when damage occurs, you can rest assured the steroids will wear the brunt of the blame.