Homocysteine Increases with the use of Steroids


British Journal Sports Medicine, 40: 644-648, 2006

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Homocysteine is an amino acid that increases LDL (the bad cholesterol) and may promote hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis). It also makes blood clot more easily, which when combined with blood vessel disease, increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. British researchers found that bodybuilders who used anabolic steroids for at least 20 years had elevated levels of homocysteine and hematocrit (cell portion of blood; blood thickness) compared to bodybuilders who never used steroids, bodybuilders who formerly used steroids or sedentary controls.

They concluded that elevations in homocysteine and hematocrit in long-term steroid users might increase the risk of blood clots, heart attack and stroke. While the observations are interesting, they put the cart before the horse. No study has demonstrated an increased incidence of heart attack or stroke in anabolic steroid users.

Every time someone who reportedly took steroids dies, some people immediately try establish cause and effect. But, they don't have any evidence. Scientists should first show that steroid users have a higher incidence of sudden death, stroke or heart attack. Only then should they determine the cause. However, elevated levels of hematocrit and hornocysteine may be dangerous. Anyone taking steroids should have regular blood tests to measure liver enzymes, hematocrit, hemoglobin, homocysteine, C-reactive protein, HDL, total cholesterol and triglycerides. Other useful tests include total and free testosterone, IGF-1, T3 and T4.You can decrease homocysteine levels by eating more fruit and taking folate, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 supplements and lower hematocrit by donating blood at the blood bank and doing aerobic exercise

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