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Anabolic Steroid And Liver Damage


Anabolic steroids have gained popularity for their ability to increase muscle mass and lowering body weight. But, the illegality of these compounds has created a negative hype around people. 

Yes, steroids could be highly hazardous to consumers for excessive use. But, people consuming steroids under medical supervision may not experience such effects.

These facts and information are lacking among the people, which leads to unwanted conditions.

Hence, this article will elaborately answer several questions revolving around these testosterone-like compounds.

What Are Anabolic Steroids?

Anabolic steroids, also called anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS), are a formulation similar to testosterone. Hence, these steroids could be considered artificial testosterone.

Generally, people prefer consuming these artificial testosterones to add or replace natural testosterone in the blood.

But why do people need additional testosterone when the body synthesizes it naturally? Testosterone is an essential hormone in the male body that contributes to numerous functions.

On average, an adult male contains up to 300-1000 ng/dL of testosterone in the body. Generally, the amount may vary depending on several factors, including unhealthy diet, age, health conditions, etc. 

Testosterone has a significant role in a man’s puberty. The hormone helps to build male character during puberty, like deepening voice, growing body hair, growth in body size, increasing sperm production, etc.

But, you would also find a scarce amount of testosterone in the female body. Testosterone in females would help them keep their bones strong and may keep their sexual functions healthy. 

You could easily understand the reason behind consuming steroids, as testosterone’s role is clear in the human body, especially in males.

People consuming steroids or artificial testosterone boost their bodies with T-hormone that would help create proteins essential for the body.

Hence, protein accumulation would result in muscle growth, increased bone density, etc., necessary for a better body structure.

Uses Of Anabolic Steroids

Anabolic steroids are one of the most famous supplements among bodybuilders and athletes.

Though a few steroids are banned or restricted, multiple legal steroids could be used cautiously for better results.

Generally, these steroids are preferred for better strength and performance during respective activities. But, you may find several other factors that make steroids a preferable supplement.

  • Enhancing Muscle Mass

    Steroids boost protein production, resulting in increased lean muscle mass content in the body. Some steroids show a thermogenic effect, resulting in cutting down excessive fat.

    Moreover, a few steroids are naturally responsible for the breakdown of fat; hence, they considered cutting steroids.

  • Enhancing Muscle Strength

    Alongside growing muscle mass, anabolic steroids would also increase muscular strength and endurance. Hence, they are widely consumed[1] by bodybuilders and weightlifters for enhanced performance. 

    They could also increase bone mineral density resulting in better strength and toughness. Moreover, better density may prevent fractures and injuries during athletic performances.

  • Prevent Muscle Degradation

    Anabolic steroids could prevent muscle degradation, a common symptom observed during certain medical conditions like cancer. 

    Additionally, anabolic steroids may help in increasing red blood cell count, boost immunity, and combine with other hormones and insulin to increase muscle mass.

Types Of Anabolic Steroids

Anabolic steroids consist of up to 32 varieties in their family. All these steroids are categorized based on their function and consumption methods.

Anabolic Steroids Based On Function

  • Bulking Steroids

    Generally, most anabolic steroids are bulking steroids, i.e., they help increase muscle mass.

    These compounds could help gain maximum muscles quickly for a faster body transformation.

    An excellent bulking steroid would help gain muscles without retaining water, resulting in dry and lean muscle mass.

    Moreover, these steroids prevent fat accumulation and may cut down additional fat in the body.

  • Cutting Steroids

    As the name suggests, these anabolic steroids are responsible for lowering body weight, especially fat.

    Generally, cutting steroids lower body fat by breaking down fat and retaining lean muscle mass.

    Some cutting steroids show the thermogenic effect, increasing the body’s heat to cut down fat.

    Additionally, they may possess muscle retention abilities essential for increasing fat usage for energy.

  • Performance Steroids

    Performance-boosting steroids are widely preferred by athletes, bodybuilders, weightlifters, etc.

    Primarily, these steroids help boost muscle strength and endurance essential for better performance.

    Moreover, consuming artificial testosterone may increase competitiveness, energy, aggression, etc., required during the performance.

Anabolic Steroids Based On Consumption Methods

  • Oral

    Oral steroids could be found as tablets or powders, depending on the manufacturer.

    Commercial companies produce tablets of different dosages for easier consumption. But, the dose of oral steroids is comparatively lower than others.

  • Injectable

    Injectable steroids are supplied directly to the bloodstream using syringes. These steroids are available in higher dosages, hence, they are mostly preferred by medical professionals.

How Do People Misuse Anabolic Steroids

Steroids are primarily used for medical conditions, but supplemental usage has been highly famous among individuals.

But, due to excessive consumption of anabolic steroids, you may develop some issues like tolerance.

Moreover, supplying the body with supplemental testosterone may interfere with your natural hormone production.

Sometimes, it may lead to the stoppage of testosterone production in the body. 

People follow different patterns and cycles to minimize steroids’ harmful effects. But, sometimes, these patterns could turn[2] into misuse of steroids.

  • Cycling

    People start taking an anabolic steroid for a particular period, i.e., 4-12 weeks. The consumption period is termed the ‘ON’ period.

    After completion of the ON period, they stop the consumption for a few weeks, i.e., enter into the ‘OFF’ period.

  • Stacking

    Some individuals often prefer consuming multiple steroids and compounds to maximize the effect.

    Usually, they follow a plan with two or more steroids or other supplements like hormones.

  • Pyramiding

    Pyramiding refers to gradually increasing the steroid dose and subsequently reducing it after reaching the peak.

  • Plateauing

    It is a switching method in which an individual changes the steroid in between to prevent ineffectiveness. Later, return to the previous supplement or steroid.

Side Effects Of Anabolic Steroids

People consuming steroids unethically or uncontrolled may experience multiple side effects. But, the side effects could be long or short-termed, depending upon numerous factors.

Short-Term Side Effects

  1. Fluid retention[3]
  2. Increasing heart rate and blood pressure
  3. Stomach pain
  4. Muscle pain and numbness
  5. Muscle cramps[4]
  6. Headaches
  7. Tendon problems

Long-Term Side Effects

  1. Liver injuries[5]
  2. Heart diseases
  3. Eating disorders
  4. Aggressive behavior
  5. Hypertension
  6. Stunted growth
  7. Increasing cholesterol levels[6]

Use Of Anabolic Steroids In Sports

Usage and consumption of anabolic steroids without a legal prescription in sports to boost performance is considered illegal.

Else, the use of anabolic steroids, except for medical conditions, is illegal in the United States Of America.

After FDA restrictions[7] on the use of steroids, the producers started creating steroids with no control over quality.

These illegal steroids are supplied to consumers through unlawful drug dealers or medical personalities like pharmacists, doctors, etc. 

Still, a few athletes consume anabolic steroids on a trial basis after getting tips from fellow mates and coaches.

Manufacturers have started producing designer steroids to pass doping tests. These designer steroids contain unregulated compounds; hence, they could harm consumers.

Do Anabolic Steroids Cause Liver Damage?

Anabolic steroids could cause four distinct severe liver problems: transient serum enzyme elevation, bland cholestasis, hepatic tumors, and chronic vascular injury.

Except for hepatic tumors, all other liver injuries due to anabolic steroids have been linked to C-17-alpha alkylated testosterone.

But, tumors could be caused due to unmodified and esterified testosterone preparations.

  • Serum Enzyme Elevation

    This may last for a short period. Hence, you could continue taking the steroids with the same dosage during increased serum enzyme concentration[8].

    The condition is mainly seen while consuming oxymetholone and danazol. But, it may also occur with other anabolic and androgenic steroids.

  • Acute Cholestasis

    Medically it is called bland cholestasis. Such conditions get visible within 1-4 months of steroid consumption. But, in some cases, it may take up to 24 months to show symptoms.

    Generally, the symptoms start with itching, nausea, fatigue, etc., which leads to dark urine and jaundice.

    Jaundice may last up to a few days, even after stopping steroid consumption. Additionally, you may observe mildly elevated serum enzyme levels at the later stage of the condition. 

  • Hepatic Tumors

    They are rare, but the most severe liver injury caused due to anabolic steroid consumption. Generally, people develop hepatic tumors after prolonged[9] steroid consumption.

    Hence, the symptoms could be seen between 5-15 years of steroid consumption. But, the onset of hepatic tumors may start within two years.

  • Peliosis Hepatis

    You would have blood-filled sinusoids and cysts partially or fully covering the liver during such conditions.

    Further, the condition may lead to sinusoidal dilation and loss of the endothelial barrier. 


Anabolic steroids could be highly beneficial in boosting an individual overall body structure, strength, and endurance.

But, these compounds start disrupting the body’s function after prolonged usage. You may also observe side effects and harsh medical conditions due to anabolic steroid consumption.

Moreover, steroids could be harmful to the liver, which you could learn from the above article. 

Though some medical conditions also require the use of certain steroids yet it is better to consult your doctor before beginning the consumption of any kind of steroids.


Working4Health prefers using primary and verified references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and our primary references include peer-reviewed research, academic, and medical institution studies.

  1. F Kadi, A Eriksson, S Holmner, et. al. Effects of anabolic steroids on the muscle cells of strength-trained athletes. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1999 Nov;31(11):1528-34. doi: 10.1097/00005768-199911000-00006. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10589853/.
  2. How are anabolic steroids used?. Date of Publication: February 2018. Available from: https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/steroids-other-appearance-performance-enhancing-drugs-apeds/how-are-anabolic-steroids-used
  3. A G Yule, J Macfie, and G L Hill. The effect of an anabolic steroid on body composition in patients receiving intravenous nutrition. Aust N Z J Surg. 1981 Jun;51(3):280-4. doi: 10.1111/j.1445-2197.1981.tb05957.x. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/6789809/.
  4. Anabolic Steroids DrugFacts. Date of Publication: August 2018. Available from: https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugfacts/anabolic-steroids.
  5. Mark W Niedfeldt. Anabolic Steroid Effect on the Liver. Curr Sports Med Rep. 2018 Mar;17(3):97-102. doi: 10.1249/JSR.0000000000000467. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29521706/.
  6. F Hartgens, G Rietjens, H Keizer, et. al. Effects of androgenic-anabolic steroids on apolipoproteins and lipoprotein (a). Br J Sports Med. 2004 Jun; 38(3): 253–259. doi: 10.1136/bjsm.2003.000199.
  7. Teens and Steroids: A Dangerous Combo. Date of Publication: April 12, 2017. Available from: https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/teens-and-steroids-dangerous-combo.
  8. C L Király. Androgenic-anabolic steroid effects on serum and skin surface lipids, on red cells, and on liver enzymes. Int J Sports Med. 1988 Aug;9(4):249-52. doi: 10.1055/s-2007-1025015. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2972634/.
  9. LiverTox: Clinical and Research Information on Drug-Induced Liver Injury. Date of Publication: May 30, 2020. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK548931/

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