Muscle Sport Magazine

Doctor’s Orders

By Thomas O’Connor, MD

Dear Lifter,

We have all read conflicting articles on what to do and not to do during a cycle to help improve your results, but there are few articles that describe basic – but very important – mistakes to avoid from a medical perspective. That’s where I come in. As a physician, my job is not to judge the choices people make, but rather to identify those mistakes they make that can contribute to serious medical conditions. These mistakes are very elementary in nature, but how many of you who use AAS actually take steps to avoid them? I’m not just talking about beginning users, but also the veterans in the sport. I have said from the beginning of my stint as the Anabolic Doc that if you take the AAS path, you have to be fully aware of the consequences and you should do all that you can to prevent health problems down the road – not only to protect yourself but also for the welfare of your partner, your spouse and your family who are dependent on you.


Time to Be Responsible

It is imperative to understand that if you are a strength athlete who has decided to go to the dark side and incorporate AAS into your program, I expect you to be responsible for taking care of your own health. I’m not talking about today or tomorrow, but about the next 20-plus years of your life. The problem with many strength athletes is that they do not think about long-term consequences. They only think of what is happening right now, today. But remember – you reap what you sow. The decision you make today may come and bite you on the ass like a rabid pit bull tomorrow. I expect you to do your part, to take responsibility for your health.


Not Getting Blood Work Done

This item is the most important piece of information that I am going to give you. No matter who your doctor is, blood work should be done at least twice per year. This includes a full panel of tests, including your cholesterol, both high density lipoprotein (high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL). Your blood pressure, triglycerides, liver values and kidney function should also be monitored regularly, along with any other factors present in your family and personal history. This is the bare minimum needed to know how your organs are functioning. How do you know what is going on with your body if you don’t get checked at least a couple times per year?


Some bodybuilders are very responsible about this, but not enough of them are; it’s my guess that no more than 20% of those who use steroids are this responsible. The biggest offenders in this area are powerlifters who have been put off by bad experiences with physicians in the past. For you, I have three words: get over it! Find a doctor who has read the research, has an open mind, and is clear that his or her job is to heal…not judge. In my office, I have seen world-class powerlifters who have been using steroids for close to 15 years and yet have never gotten their blood work done! In my opinion, that’s the single most irresponsible thing you could do.



You can’t do something like go on 30 cycles over a decade and then think, “Hey maybe I should get some blood work done to see if my liver isn’t bloated like a dead horse’s.” If this is your current mental state, you are going to pay the piper and pay him handsomely if you don’t step up and take care of your health. When reality hits you in the face, you will wish you listened to the Anabolic Doc and the message he tried to convey!I truly care for your health and want you to be the best competitive athlete you can be. At the same time, I want you to realize that if you are taking prescription-strength drugs to reach those goals, that 50 mg of Thai Dbol pills you chugged down this morning with your oatmeal was not a handful of Red Hots (I loved that candy when I was a kid!) but a serious medication. Some more serious than others; you will see this when we discuss insulin and thyroid drugs in my book- “America On Steroids- A Time to Heal.”


You may think you are badass because you weigh 240 pounds with 8% body fat, but listen to me closely here for a minute. When one of your organs fail, or another major ailment takes you down, you will see pretty quickly that you are not made of steel. The biggest badass can be brought to his knees when organ failure prevents his body from functioning the way it should. So, please, don’t let your stats make you think you are indestructible – even if you can bench press 600 pounds or if your arms are 23 inches now.



Using Underground Steroids: Consider the Source

I can see some expert lifters reading this now and saying, “This guy doesn’t know the reality of the scene, man; this doc is out of his environment.” I’ve have been in the power lifting trenches longer than most of you have been alive. I saw the anabolic pharmacology underground scene in the oldschool gyms when your mother was still tying your shoelaces. And I have seen it go from bad to worse as the supply chain shifted with Operation Gear Grinder back in 2005. (USA Today, 2008) The Feds put a halt to much of the veterinary-grade gear coming out of Mexico that supplied 90% of the black market in this country – quality Vet, Denkall, Animal Power, Brovel, Tornel, SYD Group and others who were the major players in the US steroid black market.


An unintended consequence of this halt was that it ultimately spawned the massive increase in clandestine labs and new import sources from even more uncertain sources and countries. The result? Buyers have no idea where their gear is coming from or what it contains.You could have some guy making this stuff in his garage, in an environment that resembles a slum in Calcutta. This is what you want to inject into your body? No wonder so many guys are getting abscesses like it’s in style. Cleanliness is of utmost importance not only so you don’t get an abscess that erupts like Mount Vesuvius but also for your organ health. If you think you are doing your kidneys any favors by injecting dirty gear, think again, my friend.


Didn’t you ever wonder what years of injecting dirty shit could do to your organs? The lack of sterility is only one of the problems you could run into. What about metals, carcinogens, and contaminants? We all know that virtually all of the raw powders that these underground labs use come from China. If you’ve watched the news over the last few years, you know that Chinese manufacturing doesn’t have the best reputation. The lead paint used in children’s toys? The melamine in the baby formulas? Close to 300,000 Chinese babies becoming ill because of this? Many of those babies died, and several hundred remained in critical condition because of major kidney shutdown. (Buckley, 2008) If Chinese entrepreneurs were willing to cut corners to save money by risking a major health crisis like this in their own country, how would you rate Chinese steroids and supplements manufacturers’ compassion toward bodybuilders living in the US? The correct answer is LOW!


Consider also the case of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which are compounds developed in 1929 for a wide range of industrial uses, and which consist of close to 210 different chemicals. The problem with this stuff is that it is super resilient; it takes forever to break down. (Mayes et al, 1998) This is where it gets juicy. The International Agency for Research on Cancer has stated several times that exposure to PCBs can increase your chances of developing of developing cancer, and—listen up here, folks – specifically liver and kidney cancer. If this doesn’t make you sit up and take notice, I don’t know what will. A number of studies have shown that many underground AAS labs brew products that contains an abundance of heavy metals and other contaminants. To really make your hair stand on end, read any of the research on this by noted AAS expert Bill Llewellyn.


A study worth reading, published in the British Medical Journal, found that “the potential for serious adverse health consequences due to poor manufacturing of products is not generally perceived as a major issue” among AAS users (Kimergård and McVeigh, 2014). Think about that for a minute more, my friends: not only do you not know the conditions in which your underground gear is made, you also don’t even know the country from which the powder is coming. Maybe the same company that is pumping hormone powders onto the black market is making a carcinogenic chemical in the same manufacturing equipment. I bet you didn’t think of that scenario the last time you bought a bottle of underground Deca from your boy “Big Jimmy” in the change room at your local gym.


You’re going to tell me that it’s hard to get real pharmaceutical gearm that American-made products that were available in the 80s and 90s and all the goodies from Europe are no longer a viable option. I understand that those in the US who use steroids see themselves as being between a rock and a hard place. That doesn’t change the fact that you could be introducing potent carcinogens into your system via injection because Mao Lee in Shanghai doesn’t care if your raw hormone powder contains impurities that will give you cancer in 10 years.



Buckley C. More than 54,000 affected by milk scandal. Reuters.September 2008.

“DEA Leads Largest Steroid Bust in History”.USA Today.September 24, 2007

Kimergard a & Mcveigh J. “Environments, risk and health harms; a qualitative investigation…”, BMJ Open, 2014 Jun4;(4): e005275

Llewellyn W.“Counterfeit analysis report”.Muscular DevelopmentSeptember 3, 2009. September 3, 2009.

Mayes BA, et al. “Comparative carcinogenicity in Sprague-Dawley rats of the polychlorinated biphenyl mixtures”,Toxicol Sci.1998 Jan;42(1):62-76.Toxicol Sci.1998 Jan;41(1):62-76.


Be sure to visit Dr. O’Connor’s website,

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