If you use them carelessly, anabolic steroids can raise your risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. And this is not just true for bulk users of muscle strengthening androgens, but also for athletes who take modest courses of supplements, according to researchers at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm. The Swedes discovered that cholesterol levels rise after just one 500 mg injection of testosterone enanthate.
A raised LDL level and a lowered HDL level are still the strongest predictors of cardiovascular disease that we know. The use of cholesterol-reducing statins has resulted in fewer fatalities from cardiovascular diseases and, since their introduction in the 1990s life expectancy of the average earth dweller has risen.
In some circles statins are controversial, but if you are a lover of mushrooms or fermented products, you probably consume them daily. Lovastatin, for example, is the statin found in oyster mushrooms [Exp Mycol. 1995 Mar;19(1):1-6.] and in supplements containing Red Yeast Rice. [Chin Med. 2006 Nov 23;1:4.]
Stains inhibit the enzyme HMG-CoA-reductase [HMGCR] in the liver. This enzyme converts 3-hydroxy-3methylglutaryl-coenzyme-A [HMG-CoA] into mevalonate. And mevalonate is one of the building blocks of cholesterol. If the body produces less cholesterol because statins are being taken, the concentration of the 'bad' LDL cholesterol declines. Users of statins occasionally report unexpected but serious side effects. These may be the result of a decrease in production of the enzyme co-Q10 or vitamin D. Supplementation can probably prevent these side effects or reduce them.
Testosterone and other hormones derived from it affect the liver. The more difficult they are to break down, the greater their impact. The Swedes wanted to know whether testosterone enanthate [which is not toxic for the liver] raises cholesterol levels via the HMGCR enzyme. They injected 39 healthy men aged between 18 and 50 with 500 mg Testoviron Depot, produced by Schering Nordiska. Then they waited to see what happened.
The subjects' cholesterol level started to rise almost immediately after administration. Two days later the level was 15 percent higher than normal. And eighty percent of the men had a raised level of the cholesterol-producing enzyme HMGCR. After 15 days the cholesterol level had returned to normal.
The researchers also performed experiments with human liver cells. The figure above shows that, after being exposed to testosterone in a test tube, after just two hours the cells had already started to produce more HMGCR.
The researchers think that testosterone doesn’t boost the production of 'good HDL cholesterol'. In the 1990s American researchers discovered that after administering 300 mg testosterone cypionate to men, their HDL level went down by 21 percent. [Clin J Sport Med. 1996 Jul; 6(3): 152-7.] This is probably because testosterone activates the enzyme hepatic triglyceride lipase [HTGL] in the liver. This enzyme breaks down HDL. In steroids users the concentration of HTGL can more than double. [Arch Intern Med. 1991 Oct;151(10):1925-33.]
Elite bodybuilders often spend large amounts of their prize money on coaching from doctors and nutritionists. The athletes need the specialists above all to keep a good eye on cardiovascular side effects. The Swedish study, which by the way was paid for by the WADA, suggests that the even more modest steroids users should be aware of the side effects of anabolic steroids.
Subst Abuse Treat Prev Policy. 2012 Mar 20;7(1):12.