Study: Bodybuilders Abusing Steroids Suffer Kidney Damage

December 10, 2009

(ChattahBox)—- The professional sport of bodybuilding has long been associated with the use of illegal anabolic steroids. Many in the competitive sport require various supplements to trigger their transformation from an every-day Bruce Banner to the gigantic physique of the Incredible Hulk. And a new study has shown a direct link between abuse of anabolic steroids and serious kidney disease, requiring some bodybuilders to undergo kidney transplants.

Although the use of steroids helps athletes gain muscle mass and strength, the large muscles come at the expense of their kidney function.

Lead researcher Dr. Vivette D. D’Agati, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, conducted her study of 10 men with serious kidney damage who admitted using steroids. Nine of the study participants were bodybuilders and one was a competitive powerlifter.

The researchers established a direct link to “potential direct nephrotoxic effects of anabolic steroids.” D’agati concluded from her research that “[b]ecause of the expected rise in serum creatinine as a result of increased muscle mass in bodybuilders, this complication is likely underrecognized.”

All 10 bodybuilders were suffering from significant damage to the filters of their kidneys. Nine of the men had irreversible damage, called focal segmental glomerulosclerosis. The male participants had no other risk factors that could explain their kidney disease. The researchers theorized that steroid use combined with the other practices used by bodybuilders, such as diuretics and over-the-counter painkillers, can lead to kidney damage.

One of the study participants returned to steroid use and the world of bodybuilding, after being treated, and his severe symptoms returned.

Many bodybuilders may be unaware they are harming their kidney function. And testing for performance enhancement drugs at competitions is said to be non-existent.

“These patients are likely the tip of the iceberg,” said D’Agati “It’s a risk. A significant risk.”

The study entitled, “Development of Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis after Anabolic Steroid Abuse,” can be found in the November issue of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.



4 Responses to “Study: Bodybuilders Abusing Steroids Suffer Kidney Damage”

  1. Miriam on December 10th, 2009 1:25 pm

    For more information about FSGS, please visit

    NephCure is currently the only nonprofit organization dedicated exclusively to support research seeking the cause of FSGS and NS, improve treatment and find a cure.

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  4. chris on December 30th, 2009 6:07 pm

    This is simply not true. The diuretics used are certainly much more to blame for kidney problems than the steroids.

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