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Friday, February 11, 2011

A health warning about the use of glucocorticoids, including asthma medication

In a recent newsletter, sports medicine expert, Dr Gabe Mirkin, discussed findings of a study which found unusually low bone densities in professional cyclists.  It is now his opinion that this may be due to the abuse of drugs such as prednisone, cortisone and asthma medication (glucocorticoids).  (I have copied the section of Dr Mirkin's article and a link to his site at the end of this article).

While these drugs may enhance performance, the down-side is calcium is driven out of the bones and into the circulation, including soft tissues.  This is seen in a hair tissue mineral analysis as elevated calcium and on a bioelectric impedence analysis as low bone mass (This is measured using the Salter 9106 Scales).

My main concern is for the hundreds of thousands of ordinary New Zealanders who are unwittingly taking these steroids and not aware of the serious long term damage.  Prednisone and cortisone are without doubt the most harmful in terms of speed; but "mild" versions, including "preventer" asthma medication, causes untold damage to health, much of which may not be apparent until decades later.  The damage I see includes:

  • Osteoporosis.  Sometimes apparent less than 30 years of age.
  • Joint arthritis.  Some cases requiring joint replacement.  Some cases less than 30 years age.
  • Constant bruising.
  • Constant muscle tears sprains and strains.
  • Fragile, thin skin.
  • Premature ageing.
  • Poor healing.
  • Extreme fatigue, including "brain fog".
  • Fibromyalgia and Polymyalgia.
  • Cardiovascular disease due to calcium deposition in the blood vessels.
  • Digestive disorders.
  • Weight gain.
  • Fluid retention, lymphoedema.
  • Emotional fragility, including depression.
There are solutions which include careful weaning of a person off these steroids.  Cortisone is produced by the adrenal cortex.  Incidentally, the adrenals produce more than 90 different steroidal hormones.  It is very arrogant for us to believe that we can do better than these amazing glands by bombing the body with synthetic variants.  Weaning a person off steroids focuses on restoring healthy adrenal function.

For detailed information about adrenal function, go to and then get hold of me if you need help.  I am a registered practitioner with this organisation.

Dr Mirkin's article and website link are below...

Dr. Gabe Mirkin's Fitness and Health E-Zine
February 13, 2011

Cycling Does Not Weaken Bones
           A recent article from France may explain why some top
bicycle racers have low bone densities, indicating an increased
risk for breaking their bones (The Physician and Sportsmedicine,
October 2010).  Nobody has ever shown that bicycling or any other
type of exercise weakens bones.  I discussed this in detail in
the 9/12/10 eZine:
       We may now have an explanation for the weak bones found in
some elite bicycle racers: they could have taken glucocorticoids
to help them ride faster.  These drugs, taken for just a few days,
take calcium out of bones to cause low bone density, osteoporosis
and bone fractures. Examples of glucocorticoids include Cortisone,
Dexamethasone, Hydrocortisone, Prednisolone and Prednisone
           Female athletes who were not competitive bicycle
racers were given 50 mg of prednisone per day for one week and
then tested to see how long they could continue cycling at
75 percent of their maximal output (VO2max).  They were able to
last 66.4 minutes after a course of prednisone, compared to only
47.9 minutes after placebo (European Journal of Applied Physiology,
November 2009).  That's an incredible 30 percent increase in
endurance time.
           The limiting factor in how fast you can ride a bicycle
or run, ski or skate over long distances is the time it takes for
oxygen to get into your muscles. Therefore anything that decreases
your need for oxygen will help you to move faster over distance.
Sugar requires less oxygen than fat or protein to be converted to
energy by your muscles. So anything that causes your muscles to
burn more sugar, and less fat, makes you faster.  Corticosteroids
markedly elevate blood sugar levels. For example, a normal blood
sugar is below 100.  After taking steroids, your blood sugar can
rise over 300.
          Glucocorticoids, taken in pills or injections, are banned
by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) during competition.  Athletes
get around the rule restricting corticosteroids by claiming that
they have *asthma treated with steroid inhalers, *certain skin
disorders treated with steroid creams, or *muscle or joint injuries,
immune disorders or diseases treated with steroid creams, pills or
        People should take glucocorticoids only if they need them
to treat a serious, usually life-threatening disease.  Not only can
glucocorticoids cause permanent osteoporosis, they also can
increase risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, heart attacks and
fat gain. They are very different from the anabolic steroids that
some athletes take to grow larger and stronger muscles.

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1 comment:

hair loss treatment said...

i do have to agree with this, my last medication for asthma attacks had to be stopped as it causes palpitations, and said that if it was used longer, it can cause heart attack or something, so whenever i do have asthma attacks, i just get some rest...