Despite the dangers they can cause, the number of people using steroids appears to be increasing.
The quest to achieve a peak physique is said to be one of the reasons why young men in particular are resorting to what many in the industry regard as a quick-fix solution.
But the reality is that resorting to steroids can be potentially harmful to health – at worse it can kill.
As reported in the Telegraph & Argus, Oli Cooney had already suffered two heart attacks and three strokes due to his intake of anabolic steroids. The 20-year-old, from Baildon had been warned to stop working out and had stopped taking anabolic steroids, but irreversible and long-term damage to his heart had already been done.
Oli collapsed while running back to a taxi in September last year and died shortly after arriving at Bradford Royal Infirmary.
Following the inquest, his parents said they wanted their son’s death to drive home the message that steroids can kill.
“Oli was driven by a passion for bodybuilding and unfortunately it was that passion that took his life. We would not want anyone to go through the hell we have been through,” they said.
For those pursuing body building as a sport, it seems the natural way is the safest way to achieve the required body shape.
Following a strict and intensive diet during training demands commitment and dedication but according to those who practice or train people in natural body building, it is worth it rather than the quick-fix solution steroids offer.
Bradford-based personal trainer Richard Burke says: “People see it as a quick fix to getting to where they want to go, but there are too many health risks and it’s not worth the trouble in my opinion.
“I don’t agree with them and I would not advise anyone to go anywhere near them.”
Richard’s comments come on the back of a report suggesting that the number of people, including teenagers, who use steroids and other performance or image enhancing drugs is “rapidly increasing”.
According to Nice (National Institute for Clinical Excellence), outreach programmes should be set up in gyms to try and reach this group of drug users.
Bodybuilder Nick Hindle who co-owns NRGym in Keighley which promotes body building the natural way, believes the increase in steroid use is down to vanity.
“People see these images in magazines and think that is what steroids will do for them, and that is what they will be coaxed into, but it’s not worth it,” says Nick.
“They don’t know what they are taking. It is like Russian roulette; if you are prepared to put something, you don’t know what it is, into your body it will go one way or another.”
Nick prefers to pursue the sport the natural way. “It’s about healthy lifestyle and clean living. You can do it naturally,” he says.
Joseph Kean, manager of the recovery centre at Bradford’s Bridge Project, a drug treatment charity, believes the reason for the increase in steroid use is down to the muscular physiques portrayed in magazines and on social media which many young men aspire to.
Nice has warned that anabolic steroid use is “relatively widespread” with an estimated 59,000 people aged 16 to 59 using the drug in England and Wales in the last year.
But it said that these estimates are “conservative” and that needle and syringe programmes have reported “rapidly increasing” numbers of steroid users attending their services.
Joseph, who was an invited expert on the public health advisory committee involved in the report, fears it is the tip of the iceberg.
“It is worrying because there is no education out there and where there are geographical areas where there are no services, where are these young men getting their needles and information from?” he asks.
The other issue raised by Nice is that many people who use the drugs don’t view themselves as having a problem. They see themselves as “fit and healthy” despite the heightened risk of HIV and hepatitis to those who inject themselves with any type of drug.
Joseph says those who don’t view themselves as drug-users won’t access a drug treatment service, which is why outreach sessions are being run in gyms and the Bridge Project is talking to owners of Bradford shops selling supplements, to educate and raise awareness.