Why So Many Bodybuilders Die Young?

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By Mayukh Saha / Truth Theory

Bodybuilding is one of the more glamorous sports that exist, with the objective of displaying the most “perfect” physique. The muscular figures are considered works of art that take years of training. However, the sport has come under fire during recent years. Several famous bodybuilders have passed away due to health complications at a comparatively young age. As a result, questions have been raised over the toll that professional bodybuilding has on the human body.

An Occurrence That Has Apparently Become More Frequent

On 6th November 2021, news broke that Shawn Rhoden, the 2018 Mr. Olympia, had passed away due to a heart attack. He was only 46 years old. In just 2021, 3 other prominent bodybuilders: Andy Haman, George Petersen, and John Meadows had also died. They were aged 54, 37, and 49 respectively. 23-year-old Odalis Santos Mena, a female bodybuilder, had also died due to a cardiac arrest after an operation for reducing underarm sweat had gone wrong.

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In the last decade, several bodybuilders younger than 50 have died. The most common reason seems to be cardiac arrests. However, other causes of death, such as underlying health problems, have also been found.

So far, there has been no definite research that links bodybuilding with having a shorter lifespan. However, some of the steroids used by professionals are known to have adverse effects on lifespans.

The Difference Between Being Muscular And Being A Bodybuilder

Anabolic steroids and drugs that enhance performance are known to impair cardiac function, raise blood pressure, as well as to enlarge the heart and other organs. As a result, the cardiovascular system is pressurized more. More muscles imply that the heart has to work harder. Other drugs such as diuretics, insulin, and growth hormone can also be fatal in improper doses.   

At the same time, this danger is exactly why bodybuilders undergo relentless training to make sure their bodies can cope with the excess muscle mass. Additionally, several bodybuilders whose deaths were premature were found to have genetic or pre-existing medical conditions.

Read: Mighty Mice: Gene-Edited ‘Bodybuilder’ Mice Remain Ripped On Space Station 

Moreover, having excess strength and muscle is known to benefit the health of a normal person, aiding in longevity and aging. It is only when steroids get involved that the risk of developing cardiovascular complications seemingly increases. As the late bodybuilder Rich Piana used to say, steroids “hurt your body”.

Lastly, this is not just the case for bodybuilders. The same causes of death are predominant in other sports professionals as well, like football players and professional wrestlers.

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