the bongino report

An Autopsy Report on Dead Bodybuilders

The Coroners Know Why They’re Dying

A group of researchers got ahold of the coroner’s reports on bodybuilders who died young. These are their grim findings.

Big. Ripped. Dead.

Steroid-induced cardiomyopathy. Concentric left ventricular hypertrophy and severe cardiomegaly. Hypertensive cardiovascular disease can cause sudden cardiac dysrhythmia.

These results were directly taken from autopsy reports of bodybuilders below 50 who died due to cardiovascular events.

These are people who, with apologies to Jim Carroll Band, died not from jumping in front a subway train or from a slit through the jugular vein but from causes almost certain to be long-term. steroid use/abuse.

These grim findings were made in a paper recently published titled “Dead Bodybuilders Speaking from the Heart: An Analysis of Autopsy Reports of Bodybuilders That Died Prematurely.”

Here are some of the revelations. Let’s hope, given the spate of premature bodybuilder deaths in the last few years, that this paper and its findings do some good, perhaps serving as a warning against the relentless, kamikaze pursuit of drug-aided “bigness” For and against making a mockery out of the notion bodybuilding is a health sport.

What They Did

I was surprised to realize I know two of the paper’s five authors. One is Daniel Gwartney, a competitive bodybuilder during the 1990s who’s now a doctor. The other is attorney Rick Collins, widely known as the legal authority on performance-enhancing drugs.

Because their background is so important, their observations are more significant than they might otherwise. They have a good understanding of the lifestyle. They were able see potential pitfalls and to consider what others might not have considered.

The authors performed a Google search on the term on February 10, 2022. “dead bodybuilders.” The search returned 18 websites within the first two results pages. They removed duplicate information and YouTube videos from the search results, narrowing it down to seven websites.

These sites were their starting point. These sites were used to locate 45 American bodybuilders who had died from any cause within the last 12 years. They narrowed down their search by limiting it to people who died from heart attacks, heart failures, strokes, embolisms, fatal arrhythmias or natural causes.

They identified a total of 14 bodybuilders, and the authors contacted each individual county coroner’s office to request autopsy reports. They got back seven reports but ended up excluding one because the official cause of death wasn’t a cardiac-related event (drowning).

For ethical and probably legal reasons, their names – some of which we’d probably recognize – were omitted from the study.

The Grim Task They Have To Complete

While the researchers’ search parameters included dead bodybuilders under the age of 50, only one of their six “finalists” It was 46 years old. The oldest was just 26 years old, while the second-oldest was 40. You don’t have to be a pathologist or cardiologist to realize that cardiovascular-related deaths in men that young is an anomaly.

Can we put it down to steroid use? Is it possible to know that these bodybuilders used higher than normal amounts of steroids? Well, most of the toxicology reports indicated steroid use (67%), but even without that smoking gun, the authors calculated a couple of the dead bodybuilders’ fat-free mass index (FFMI).

A person with a FFMI greater than 25 kilograms/meter sq. is rare. Two of the guys were getting ready to compete, and assuming that their body fat percentage was 5% (a conservative estimate), their FFMI was estimated to be 31 kg/m².

However, as the authors repeatedly state, association does not mean causation, i.e., just because they used steroids doesn’t necessarily mean it led to their cardiovascular failures.

Still, it’s pretty damning when you look at the morbid measurements. For instance, the researchers found that the mean heart weight of the dead bodybuilders was 73.7% heavier than their reference man’s (575 grams vs. 332 grams, respectively). Further, the mean thickness of their left ventricles was 125% thicker than what’s typical for an average man.

This is to be expected because cardiac muscle – one of the three types of vertebrate muscle – has androgen receptors peppered throughout it. The heart muscle cells will likely also respond to anabolic steroids just like the skeletal muscles.

You may think that a larger heart should be good for pumping more blood. You might be correct in principle. For instance, the legendary superhorse Secretariat had a heart that weighed 22 pounds, almost three times the size of the average thoroughbred’s heart. Because of his large heart, he could take in more oxygen. This allowed him to fuel his muscles with oxygen and enabled him to have almost supernatural endurance.

But the hearts of the dead bodybuilders weren’t large in the same way that Secretariat’s heart was large. No. Their hearts were unfortunately large, possibly because their walls, especially the left ventricle, had become thicker due to high doses of steroids. This resulted in a decrease in the amount of blood entering the chambers.

The heart had difficulty oxygenating the huge bodies they were kept in. This, in turn, could lead to heart attack or death in some cases.

I should also mention that many non-steroid-using weightlifters and bodybuilders have larger left ventricles. However, in most cases the enlargements are minimal and not dangerous. Clearly, that wasn’t the case for the six dead bodybuilders.

An autopsy report revealed that atherosclerosis was present in 80% of these patients. While medical science doesn’t know for sure if steroids cause atherosclerosis, steroid abuse has long been associated with elevated levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL).

Of course there is. controversy It is not clear if whacked cholesterol levels contribute to atherosclerosis. However, regardless of their level, their clogged blood vessels could be a natural side-effect hypercaloric intake.

Because they were large and wanted to grow, and because steroids were used to help them, they ate lots. They likely ate a lot of meat – sties of pigs, herds of cattle, flocks of chickens – all of which contain a lot of saturated fat, which, according to popular belief, possibly led to atherosclerosis years, if not decades, before it might have naturally occurred.

They might have been hungry for calories and ingested more trans-fats, processed sugars, and high glycemic carbohydrates, which are all more likely to cause heart disease than saturated fats.

One cardiovascular disease risk factor that wasn’t revealed by the autopsy reports is high blood pressure. Obviously, dead men don’t have a blood pressure of any kind, so the reports don’t reveal if these men were hypertensive. We can assume, however, that dead bodybuilders had high blood pressure. This is likely to be another contributing factor to their early deaths.

Can’t Swing a Dead Cat Without Hitting a Dead Bodybuilder

The study does have some drawbacks. The authors also point out that they don’t know what other drugs (GH and insulin, etc.) were being used. The authors were not aware of what other drugs the bodybuilders could have been using. They also didn’t know whether bodybuilders had predispositions genetically. cardiovascular disease. Lastly, there’s that “association does not mean causation” The mantra was something they repeated throughout their paper.

Yes, they did use due diligence when reporting their findings. They also urged further research. “further clarify the potential risks of cardiovascular complications with continual supraphysiological abuse of AASs (androgenic anabolic steroids) in bodybuilders.”

Methinks they’re being a little coy, but that’s what you have to do when you write a paper for inclusion in a scientific journal.

The fact is you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a dead bodybuilder lately. You don’t have to be a doctor, a researcher, or a coroner to see that a disproportionate number of bodybuilders have dropped dead, and their hearts are the most logical, most obvious suspects.

Look at it this way, even if these super large humans using super large amounts of steroids didn’t have enlarged hearts or clogged arteries, the fact that their bodies are so large means their hearts had to work that much harder, John Henry, steel-driving-man hard, just to stay alive. They eventually lost their hearts, just like John Henry.

What about the average guy who has done a few cycles?

A lot of the people reading this site have done a cycle or two and, if they’re prone to any degree of paranoia at all, are likely gingerly massaging their chests right now, wondering just how thick and lumbering the steroids made their left ventricles.

Well, there’s at least a little research on the subject, the findings of which should give you a little solace. As described in the paper that’s the topic of this article, Smit et al. Smit et al. conducted a study to determine the impact of AAS on left ventricular hypertrophy. 31 men were recruited who had chosen to start a cycle.

After 16 weeks, the “3D left ventricular ejection fraction declined, ratio of early to late ventricular filling velocities decreased, 3D left atrial volume increased, and left ventricular mass increased.”

None of that’s desirable. After being clean for 8 months, however, the baseline values returned to baseline. It is important to note that these guys consumed a median of 904 mg. per week. That’s a lot, but it pales in comparison to what pros typically do (running non-stop or virtually non-stop cycles of as much as three grams a week for years).

My point is this: If you’ve done a modest cycle or two or three in your life but have been clean for a while, you’re probably no more likely to drop dead than the average non-steroid-using guy your age (which may or may not give you peace of mind).

However, if you’re thinking about doing additional cycles in your obsessive quest for bigness, let the lessons left by these dead bodybuilders guide you in making your decision.

Refer to

Refer to

  1. Escalante G et al. The Heart of Dead Bodybuilders: An Analysis of Autopsy Reports from Bodybuilders Who Perished Prematurely. J Funct Morphol Kinesiol. 2022 Nov;7(4):105.

This is a great article!

I’ve hung out with Rick a few times. He’s a great guy.

I don’t see how this is that ‘telling’. The US has a male population of over 160 million. I am willing to bet that hundreds of thousands of men use anabolic drugs. We have 48 men who died under 50, most likely from high doses of anabolics. What’s the matter? How many people under 50 have died of couch potato disease? I bet a lot more.

You can’t have more than one thing killing you. You can die from both steroid abuse or couch potato disease. Once you have completed the assessment of the killer, move on to the next victim.

Ok, that’s fair enough. We all know what causes death in couch potatoes. You gotta’ admit that there’s a rash of young or young-ish semi-famous bodybuilders dying lately. These autopsy reports shed some light on the things many of us have suspected.

WOW…So much denial in this group…SMH

It would be beneficial to have more information about the long-term effects TRT on your heart health, especially in relation to cardiovascular health.

That’s almost like saying “I’m 50lbs overweight, but at least I don’t smoke”. I’ve always thought it’s better to try to remove bullets from our own long game of Russian roulette, than to use the contents of other people’s chambers to excuse ourselves.

Here’s a recent article of TC’s related to that:

And there’s this:

Keep this in mind:

From the 1980s until my last show in Atlanta, Eastern Seaboard 1990, I was a competitive BB. I used steroids to cycle and was careful. I won my state title, which qualified me for the Nationals. I competed in them once a year in the heavyweight division. Muscle Mag picked me to win the Eastern Seaboard, but there were some other candidates. “funny stuff” that went on so I didn’t. It was also my last show. This article is very interesting to me because, even though I did light cycle, I understand that I was likely affected in some way. However, it has been over 30 years since I last used those effects. Many of those who lived in that era also died young from the same causes. Ray and Mike Mentzer are two of the most prominent examples. It is possible they could have suffered from an inherited defect as they died in the same year and for the same reason, but it is more likely that there were other causes. “contributing factors”.

As serious and solemn this article is, it was a great reference to The Jim Carroll Band with their song Friends That Died. This is very fitting. “….loved you more than all the others, this song is for you my brother.”.

This assessment is incorrect as many athletes around the globe have suffered cardiac arrest or died in 2022. Data 400 percent more confirms the time frame for the Covid vaccination, which is gene therapy that has compromised your immune system by injecting spike proteins into your body that can’t be turned off. This causes an autoimmune disorder.


There are many studies that demonstrate even. “moderate” (quantify moderate; bodybuilding standards moderate). Subclinical deterioration and AAS use can lead to cardiac dysfunction.

Cardiac automomic dysfunction + subclinical deterioration in cardiac function + intense exercise could result in fatal arrhythmia in those that are predisposed or unlucky.

Whether cardiac dysfunction induced is reversible depends… how long have you been using, how much have you been using… how genetically predisposed towards eventuating a negative outcome from a cardiovascular standpoint are you?

For some… low doses are enough to cause serious issues even if duration of use is short. A small minority appear to get away with megadoses for decades… genetics…

The primary difference between athletes’ heart and steroid-induced cardiomyopathy is the location of the left ventricle. The left ventricle of an athlete might hypertrophy (in eccentric, concentric or mixed fashion), however these adaptations in the context of an athlete typically make the heart stronger… hence you don’t see the super low LVEF’s with athletes heart as you do with AAS induced cardiomyopathy.

There’s a linear correlation between years or cumulative AAS use and plaque scores. It’s compound dependent, but drugs like stanozolol have some putting up bloodwork along the lines of

LDL 300

You can say what you like about cholesterol science. Low HDL is associated with increased cardiovascular risk.

Whether increased LDL from AAS is dangerous… depends on so many factors. Even though 300 LDL is unacceptable under all circumstances, it’s still a terrible number.

How high? What do sub-fractions/particulate counts look like

Ironically, AAS tends decrease lp (A). An elevated lpa is associated to higher CVD risk. However this is likely offset by crushed HDL…

There is no WAY chronic use of drugs like oxandrolone, stanozolol don’t hasten the process of developing atherosclerosis. All c17aa AAS are particularly bad for lipids, but DHT derived orals that can’t aromatise are the worst. The role of estrogen in glucose and lipid metabolism is important.

So aside from the fact we know cardiac myocytes have AR’s. AAS-induced hypertension and synpathetic nervous system stimulation induced by AAS use are also contributing factors to cardiomyopathy in bodybuilders (and some hobbyists).

Also, we need to consider the dosages that bodybuilders (and hobbyists) use.

Talk to @RT_Nomad, you’ll note the doses many bodybuilders of his era used were merely a fraction of what many hobbyists use now, let alone professional bodybuilders.

I saw this study, for the most part deleterious changes were subclinical in nature… meaning the deleterious variables didn’t cross over into territory that could mediate say… symptoms of heart failure, nor did the cardiac parameters of participants reach that of what you’d associate with cardiomyopathy.

However this was one cycle… imagine decades of use + an aging body + the fact many never come off and/or go down to TRT and it’s fairly likely “cumulative” Damage could cause CHF to be prematurely onset.

I’m not condoning steroid use. My biggest concern with steroid use is how many people never stop using. The dangers of a healthy male having a few cycles per week are far overblown, based on the information that can be found via media. How many adults stop using after a cycle? Perhaps three to five.

Many people who begin using seem to use for the rest their lives.

However, I feel that bodybuilding circles underestimate the dangers of chronic or acute use.

Agreed. Excellent post!

Agreed. I’m not trying to diminish the health implications of steroid use but merely call it what it is rather than targeting it like the media does. While there are many other things that can be equally damaging to American lifestyles, it’s not the most sensational.

This is just my opinion. However, social media has made it seem that way. It’s right in front of you. In the 70s and 80s you wouldn’t have even known,

This is the truth. Steroids don’t kill you. The abuse of steroids can lead to many other problems. @unreal24278 listed. Drinking too much alcohol, or too little water can also lead to this. Ask Silvester or Arnold if steroids have killed them. They are still alive, despite all their abuse.

Edit: Also, from what i’ve read, most of the dead steroid abusers were known to abuse other drugs and narcotics at the same time. Double whammy.


The spike protein in covid vaccinations is almost identical with that found in covid-19.

Post-shot, that protein will disappear. But the presence of it in your body stimulates an immune response. This doesn’t prevent you from being able to get covid, but it makes it less likely for you to fall seriously ill

There is no quantative evidence to my knowledge aside from conspiracy theories that suggest covid shots (and why is everyone going after covid shots… out of everything you could go after… it’s a vaccine… seriously…) cause autoimmune disease.

Man, I don’t want to get into a whole thing about vaccines, but that’s just plain wrong. I worked briefly as a microbiologist and I can tell you there is no credible evidence that these elegant mRNA vaccines caused any more deaths than any other vaccine that’s been in use for a hundred years. A few people with medical science backgrounds would not be able to agree with your views.

Ray is not my friend, but Mike used speed to increase his productivity. It was quite a lot, according to what I recall hearing. That I see as a contributing factor. Maybe he could have done it with better heart genetics, or maybe he could have done it without AAS. All three factors contributed to his death. There may have been other factors.

The difference between water and alcohol is… alcohol is a poison, water is essential for survival.

You can actually die from alcohol. There is no safe amount of alcohol, according to new research.

The industry-funded studies that found moderate smoking was linked to health benefits are likely to be a fair reflection of past data.

Is it really possible to quit drinking just because you’re having a few beers every week that could cut your life expectancy by a year? Probably not… it’s about the bigger picture/quantative risk.

I drink very little nowadays. But I’m an anomaly for my age. I find most alcohol tastes like feet, or (insert gross variable). I like beer though, but I don’t drink beer anymore regardless because it’s high in calories and high in carbs + the metabolic effects of ethyl alcohol make the already unhealthy profile of the beverage even worse.

Anabolic steroids shorten lifepsans, there’s no doubt about that… but how much shortening are we talking about?

Five years? Ten? Twenty? Fifty? It varies so much from user to user…

There’s also a myth that mRNA technology with regards to vaccines is a “new thing”. mRNA vaccines are a concept that has been used in clinical trials for quite some while.

Covid shots were my first experience with a commercially viable preparation. However, a solid safety record has been maintained for a very long time.


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