How to Evaluate Steroid Side Effects

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Scare tactics have been largely ineffective in steroid education. Such campaigns bombard steroid users with messages about purported steroid side effects. Sometimes steroid side effects are exaggerated or overstated and often too much time is spent focusing on unlikely and rare steroid side effects that may never affect most steroid users. Most steroid educational campaigns fail to take into account the following questions:

(1) How severe is the steroid side effect?

(2) How likely is the steroid side effect?

(3) Is the steroid side effect reversible?

(4) Can the steroid side effect be prevented?

Liver toxicity, cancer, prostate enlargement, negative psychological and behavioral changes (including depression, roid rage and aggression) are some serious purported steroid side effects. Steroid education campaigns that rely on scare tactics discuss uncommon and rare steroid side effects as if they will occur every time steroids are used. The credibility of the campaign suffers when most steroid users do not experience the purported side effects.

Acne, oily skin, testicular atrophy and infertility are some steroid side effects that may be more likely to occur.  However, these side effects are largely reversible.  Other side effects such as gynecomastia are easily preventable.

Some steroid side effects may be of greater concern to long-term users of anabolic steroids rather than users who have only cycled steroids once or twice. For example, long-term use of anabolic steroids can affect cardiovascular health and heart function via several mechanisms. However, the short-term adverse alteration in blood lipid levels may not be a steroid side effect that is of significant concern for someone who has only done a single 8-week steroid cycle.

Steroid education should focus less on scare tactics that exaggerate unlikely steroid side effects and focus more on programs that teach realistic risk assessment and harm reduction techniques


About Millard Baker