Steroids and cholesterol: How hormones & hormone based drugs affect blood lipids
What is the connection between steroids and cholesterol? I became interested in this question at a relatively young age, after I realized how big impact puberty had on my heart disease.
Since all hormones are produced from cholesterol, taking steroids would shut down natural hormonal production thereby leaving more cholesterol unused. However, the body can also reduce production of cholesterol, in order to balance it out.
On the other hand, it can't control which kind and how much foods we eat. On top of all that, some hormones also have an effect on cholesterol levels.
HORMONES WIH THE BIGGEST EFFECT ON CHOLESTEROL
According to majority of the studies out there, testosterone, estrogen, progesterone and DHT seem to have the greatest effect on cholesterol levels.
Estrogen in particular seems to be responsible for keeping good HDL cholesterol elevated. Although other hormones such as testosterone and particularly DHT may raise total and LDL cholesterol, it seems they do this by overpowering estrogen.
For instance, DHT or Dihydrotestosterone has anti-estrogenic properties. So, by reducing estrogen, HDL goes down which should cause raise in LDL and total cholesterol.
STEROIDS AND CHOLESTEROL - DOSAGE
Under the normal circumstances, the body limits how much hormones the endocrine glands secrete. However, by taking steroids you can add as much hormones as you want but it comes with a price.
Besides shutting down your own natural hormonal production, more steroids would also have greater effect on cholesterol levels and not in a good way.
This is one of the reason, why even people on hormonal replacement therapy or HRT need to take blood tests, in order to make sure that their values are in the right range.
STEROIDS AND CHOLESTEROL - DIFFERENCES
Testosterone based steroids don't seem to have such big effect on cholesterol levels, when used in doses proscribed by the doctor. Although testosterone by itself seems to have the ability to raise LDL cholesterol, its effect is primarily dependent on its metabolites estradiol and DHT.
Actually, DHT based steroids such as Winstrol, Anavar and Masteron have shown to have the biggest effect, when it comes to lowering HDL and increasing LDL cholesterol. Although, DHT has some great benefits, optimal cholesterol ratio is not one of them.
Progesterone based steroids such as Deca Durabolin don't seem to have significant effect on cholesterol levels. In the studies that I have seen, the drug usually reduced HDL slightly, without affecting LDL or total cholesterol.
Also, drug similar to steroids, Human Growth Hormone seems to have the ability to improve blood lipids profile. HGH helps burn fat and raises energy levels.
STEROIDS AND CHOLESTEROL - LIPASE ENZYMES
Hepatic lipase (HL) and Lipoprotein lipase (LPL) are enzymes which have an affect on HDL and LDL cholesterol. Males usually have higher levels of HL, while women favour LPL.
Hepatic lipase is responsible for clearance of HDL cholesterol, while LPL takes care of cellular uptake of free fatty acids and glycerol. Male hormones, especially powerful androgens such as DHT stimulate hepatic lipase which causes reduction in HDL cholesterol.
Since HDL helps clear out excess LDL cholesterol from the bloodstream, reduction in one causes the other one to rise.
I haven't used steroids, so I can't speak from experience. However, at the end of my puberty when I had a lot of acne, doctor gave me several medications. Since none of them really worked, he gave me powerful drug which was DHT blocker but I can't remember its name.
Although I noticed severe reduction in my acne, I believe the drug was also one of the main causes of my heart disease as well as gyno. It took me some time until I connected all the dots. On the other hand, stress, bad diet and sedentary lifestyle made things even worse.
Also, my total and LDL cholesterol were low, while HDL was close to its max. However, blood test was done after rigorous diet and exercise regime. The link to my cholesterol lab results is on the left.
Claims stated in this articles aren't facts. They are more like speculations, based on limited amount of evidence.
The point is, make sure that your hormones are balanced since too much or too little of any chemical can have negative effect on your health.
Effect of hormones goes much further than steroids and cholesterol connection. They affect heart function, blood pressure, stroke volume and much more, not just blood lipids. Be smart, stay healthy.
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