WrestleMania deaths and dangers lurking in the gym

Physical exercise

By pH health care professionals

A recent article reported the premature death of another former WrestleMania participant and a pattern of early deaths among other participants. Compared to statistics for the general population, death rates seem to be much higher among this group.

Verified causes of death include:

  • Heart disease
  • Drug overdose: prescription and illicit
  • Violent death/accidents

Likely contributions may also include:

  • Excess use of steroids
  • Excess use of prescription drugs such as painkillers, stimulants, other hormones
  • Unusual psychiatric syndromes and increased risky behavior
  • Use of other illegal drugs

So what is going on?

 It’s no secret that gym users typically care about their body shape and weight. But some go too far for the physique they want and actually risk their health. They may turn to mail-order muscle boosters, supplements and prescription drugs to bulk up, or weight loss pills and water pills to see a drop on the scale. Or maybe they just need something to pump them up after a long day so they can get through their cross fit workout, and so they look for ways to quickly increase their energy. The result can be drug abuse among gym goers.

A significant number of gym members are using legal and illegal drugs without necessarily knowing the damaging health consequences in the long run.  Drugs by itself can cause problems, but excess use makes them that much more severe.

Here are some of the common drugs used by gym goers and their side effects:

  • Steroids. Steroid use is a most common occurrence in gyms. Anonymous surveys indicate that 2.7 to 2.9 percent, or as many as 3 million, admitted steroid use as young adults. This rate may increase to 15-30 percent in weight trainers. About 89 percent obtain steroids from aberrant sources, of which 50 percent may be from makeshift home laboratories.
    • Short-term side effects may include acne and oily skin, excess body hair, irritability, aggressiveness, mania and sleep disturbances. After a while, users may notice testicular shrinkage, balding, male breast development and elevation of lipids. Females may notice a deepening of the voice as well. Long term, users may experience infertility, heart disease, depression, liver disease, tumors, increased rates of stroke and more.
  • Prescription drug abuse. Studies found that gym users have increased rates of medication use, such as diuretics (10 percent), thyroxin (10 percent) to lose weight, insulin (14 percent), clenbuterol (21 percent) and ephedrine (44 percent) as stimulants, tamoxifen (22 percent) as an estrogen blocker and to prevent male breast development, human chorionic gonadotropin (11 percent) and growth hormone for increased strength.
  •  Stimulants. Stimulants are meant to stimulate the body’s energy, metabolism, heart rate, mental alertness and drive. Commonly used items include energy drinks and caffeinated products, supplements like ephedrine cordyceps, 1,3-dimethylamylamine, yerba mate, theophylline and other prescription or illicit stimulants. These stimulants create instant energy, but cause extra strain on the heart and hormonal systems. Therefore, excessive stimulation and overdosing certainly raises the risk for heart troubles in the future. Excessive stimulation of the hormonal system leads to adrenal fatigue. The body can only produce so much adrenaline till resources start to wane, causing fatigue and burnout.
    • Short-term side effects may include restlessness and hyper-excitability, fast heartbeat, sweats, anxiety, mental overdrive, sleep problems, rebound fatigue, loss of focus, habitual use and may cause withdrawal symptoms. More serious outcomes may include heart rhythm irregularities, abnormal heart muscle size, heart attacks, heart failure, burnout syndromes and risk for inducing psychiatric disorders.
  • Weight loss supplements and prescriptions. Weight loss pills need to be medically supervised. Excessive doses may have dangers similar to stimulants. Habituation does occur. Thyroid hormones should not be given for the purpose of weight loss.
  • Water pills (diuretics). Diuretics can decrease body weight within a short amount of time because the body contains at least 50-65 percent water. However, optimal water in and outside cells are needed for optimal cell function; therefore, water content should be kept at healthy levels. .
  • Pain medications. Excessive workouts may come at the price of increased risk for injuries. Once pain develops, some gym goers may just grab pain medication to get through their workout. Although pain medication may temporarily mask the pain, the underlying muscle, joint, ligament or cartilage injury is probably getting worse. Excess pain medication can harm various organs such as the kidneys, liver and gastrointestinal tract. Excess and chronic use of pain medication such as Vicodin causes dependency, decreased mental function, slurry speech, respiratory depression and more.

Be proactive and seek medical advice when you are considering what products can help you get the most out of your workout. You can boost your workout, increase your energy and build muscle without damaging your health!

Enjoy Your Healthy Life!

The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.