Long-term use of muscle-building anabolic steroids may weaken the functioning of the heart, an alarming study shows.
Use of the drug appears to contribute to artery-clogging, a team of US scientists have discovered.
It was also linked to elevated blood pressure and cholesterol levels – both risk factors for heart disease.
It serves as a stark warning to the millions across the globe who use the substance.
And recent research suggests there is a worrying growing trend among middle-aged men taking the drug commonly used by bodybuilders.
‘It is critical that clinicians become aware of the long-term risks of anabolic steroid use on the heart,’ said Dr Harrison Pope Jr, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and co-lead author of the study.
Dangerous: The US study results are alarming especially given the rising numbers of men over 40 who are reportedly taking steroids in a bid to boost their looks and libido
Anabolic steroids are manufactured drugs that mimic the effects of the male hormone testosterone.
There are an estimated 2.9 million to 4 million steroid users in Americans, the researchers said.
In the UK, Home Office figures show 60,000 people used the drug in the UK in 2014, but experts claims the number is far higher and is closer to one million.
In an attempt to have the same shape they had in their youth, have more energy and a higher libido, tens of thousands of desperate men over 40 are taking steroids, according to Joseph Kean, chairman of a public health group on steroid use in Yorkshire and Humberside.
For the new study, the team tracked 140 male weight-lifters – 86 had used anabolic steroids and 54 had not. Of the steroid users, 28 had stopped using before the assessments.
The researchers used ultrasound scans which showed that the hearts of the steroid users were weaker.
ARE ANABOLIC STEROIDS LEGAL?