post Can Steroids Make You Taller? (M.D. Research Revealed)

Can Steroids Make You Taller? (M.D. Research Revealed)

Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD
Published by Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD | Medical Doctor
Last updated: February 15, 2024
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As a doctor, I frequently encounter patients, particularly men, who express a desire to increase their muscle mass and stature. They often inquire about methods to accelerate this process.

A common topic that arises in these discussions is the use of anabolic steroids. Many of my patients harbor the misconception that these drugs can also contribute to increasing their height.

Given my medical background, I was initially skeptical about the claims regarding steroids as a growth enhancer. However, to provide my patients with accurate and evidence-based advice, I conducted thorough research and collaborated with other healthcare professionals.

This collaborative effort allowed us to rigorously examine the scientific evidence and distinguish between reality and hopeful misconceptions.

Quick Summary

  • Anabolic steroids do not contribute to increased height, as bone lengthening is determined by growth plates, not muscle growth.
  • Steroids can potentially disrupt hormonal balance and cause premature closure of growth plates, leading to stunted growth.
  • According to the National Institutes of Health, anabolic steroid use in adolescents can lead to stunted growth and other significant health risks.
  • In my opinion, relying on steroids for height increase is not only ineffective but also poses unnecessary health risks, especially in adolescents.

What Are Anabolic Steroids?

Man injecting steroids

Anabolic steroids, often referred to as 'roids or juice', are synthetic versions of testosterone, the male sex hormone.

Whether taken orally or by intramuscular injection, these drugs travel to the androgen receptors in the muscle and promote muscle protein synthesis, which, according to National Institute of Health, results in enhanced muscle growth and repair [1].

When combined with resistance training, anabolic steroids are highly effective for muscle mass gains, hence appealing to many athletes and bodybuilders.

Still, there is nothing that suggests these drugs make you grow taller. That’s because muscles don’t make you taller; bones do.

Related: How to Keep Gains After a Steroid Cycle?

How They Affect Development and Height

Checking his height with a measuring tape

The length of our bones increases due to the activity of growth plates located within the bones.

According to a 2021 study by the Society for Endocrinology, these plates mature through puberty and fuse at the end of that development period, resulting in no more growth [2]. The most striking changes in growth occur during this time, and there is no set age when that process is complete.

What’s ultimately responsible for the control of growth are hormones like thyroid, growth hormone, testosterone, and estrogen.

Growth hormones (GH) are the most important factor in this equation. Since anabolic steroids mimic testosterone in the body, let’s take a closer look at their respective effects.

Anabolic Steroids

Man holding a syringe

Testosterone, a crucial hormone, also plays a significant role in growth, particularly during the tumultuous adolescent stage.

One study by NIH shows anabolic steroid treatment combined with gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) did increase the height of two children entering adolescence with short stature, which seems promising for treating specific medical conditions [3].

Its Validity

Reflecting on my own teenage years, I recall my brothers being drawn to the idea of quick solutions for growth and development.

Now, as a doctor, I observe this same longing in my younger patients, particularly those interested in athletics.

However, with the wisdom gained from medical training and experience, I've learned to be skeptical of such shortcuts. Instead, I advocate for sustainable health practices that ensure long-term well-being and growth.

Scientific Evidence

Endocrinology science shows testosterone, working with growth hormone, contributes to male puberty developments like height and body hair growth [4].

However, it's not a major factor in height gain. Genetics, more than environmental factors like diet and exercise, mainly determine height, according to MedlinePlus [5].

Using steroids disrupts hormonal balance in both adults and adolescents. A 2016 National Library of Medicine study found anabolic steroids reduce testosterone by inhibiting luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone, essential for testosterone production [6].

Thus, steroid use can counteract natural growth processes, particularly in adolescents seeking to increase their height.

Human Growth Hormone

Growth hormone, a vital substance created in the pituitary gland, promotes growth during childhood and adolescence and maintains tissues and organs throughout one's lifespan.

Human growth hormone (HGH), as it is also called, can be synthetically made to treat GH deficiency in children and adults.  According to Mayo Clinic, HGH may increase lean muscle and decrease adipose tissue (fat) in healthy adults [7]

The use of HGH pills in healthy adults isn’t proven to stave off aging, make you grow taller, or provide any significant health benefits, and much like anabolic steroids, the risks far outweigh any potential benefit.

The Role of Steroids in Bone Maturation and Growth Plate Closure

Anabolic steroids can hasten bone maturation and early growth plate closure by affecting the endocrine system.

These hormones, which simulate testosterone, boost skeletal muscle and bone growth. However, they disrupt hormone balance, increasing insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) and speeding up bone development.

This early maturation of growth plates leads to their premature closure, halting height growth and posing long-term health risks. Furthermore, the NHI highlights risks for adolescents like stunted growth, high blood pressure, heart enlargement, and infertility [8].

This makes steroid misuse concerning, both athletically and otherwise.

Related Articles:

FAQs

Can My Height Increase After 17?

Yes, your height can indeed increase after the age of 17, depending on whether the growth plates in your bones have sealed their fate or not.

How Do You Trigger a Growth Spurt?

You can trigger a growth spurt as a developing teen by getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet that includes protein and plenty of calcium and vitamin D, and being physically active.


References

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15248788/  
  2. https://www.yourhormones.info/topical-issues/growth-and-height/
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17128560/
  4. https://www.yourhormones.info/hormones/testosterone/
  5. https://medlineplus.gov/genetics/understanding/traits/height/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4744441/
  7. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/healthy-aging/in-depth/growth-hormone/art-20045735 
  8. https://nida.nih.gov/research-topics/anabolic-steroids
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