Anabolic androgenic steroid (AAS) abuse is widespread in competitive sports. It has been estimated that close to 3% of American adults have used AAS. (1) In one study 29% of college football players and 21% of male track and field athletes reported use. (2) Self admitted use of AAS in elite power lifters was 55% in another study. (3)
For over two decades there has been an epidemic of American professional wrestlers dying young. Keith Pinckard, M.D., Ph.D, a forensic pathologist in Dallas, Texas who has followed deaths in professional wrestling estimated that professional wrestlers are 12 times more likely to die of heart disease than other individuals ages 25 to 44. (5) That AAS can cause heart disease has been well known for a number of years.
There have also been reports of cardiomyopathy occurring in AAS users. (10, 11) There are studies that show AAS can cause abnormal enlargement of the left heart ventricle that can persist even after stopping drug use. (12) Such changes to the heart function can cause heart failure (13) and even sudden death. (14)
Other specific complications that have been reported in AAS users include pulmonary embolism (15), hypertension (16), adverse cholesterol profiles (17), and lethal heart rhythms (18).
On February 27, 2006 WWE implemented a Wellness Program that included a substance abuse and drug policy. (19) The non-medical use of AAS which include and are based on the natural steroid testosterone is prohibited. It is too early to know what effect this new policy will have on the death rate of professional wrestlers.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) notes 2000; 15(3): 15.
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- United States v. Vincent K. McMahon and Titan Sports, No 93-CT-1276.
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- Ugersk Laeger 1991; 153: 587.
- Am J Heart 1992; 124: 507.
- Physician Sportsmed 1988; 16(11): 109.
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- Prog Cardiovasc Dis 1998; 41: 1.
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- Med Toxicol Adverse Drug Exp 1989; 4: 254.
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- Am J Cardio 2000; 85 (10): 1212.
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