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Confused lung doctors think methenolone is bad for lungs

It looks like Spanish lung doctors at the Hospital Universitario de Canarias have managed to make the world another pie-in-the-sky story richer. In a letter to the medical journal Archivos de Bronconeumologia, they write that the mild steroid methenolone enanthate [structural formula shown below] causes damage to the lungs. Not so, in our view.

Confused lung doctors think methenolone is bad for lungs

The doctors describe the case of a competitive bodybuilder, aged 26, who ran into problems after a 300 mg injection of methenolone enanthate. The bodybuilder used Schering's Primobolan Depot. After injecting the man became short of breath and developed a dry cough. A day later his symptoms had not cleared up, so the guy went to a doctor.

The doctors couldn't work out what was wrong with the bodybuilder either. Scans showed inflammation in the upper part of the lungs, but the man had no fever and his heartbeat and blood pressure were normal.

The man's white blood cell count was 18,200 per micro litre. That's on the high side when the count reaches 10,000 doctors start to get worried. Such a high white blood cell count usually suggests the presence of an infection. The doctors tried to work out whether the man had a bacterial infection, such as Legionella pneumoniae or Streptococcus pneumoniae, but they found no antigens to these in the bodybuilder's blood. Nor did they find any antigens against more exotic bacteria that can cause lung infections, like Mycoplasma pneumoniae, Coxiella burnetii or Chlamydia pneumoniae.

But there was definitely something wrong with the bodybuilder's lungs. He was short of breath and he had difficulty in expelling carbon dioxide from his lungs.

The doctors gave the bodybuilder levofloxacin, a strong antibiotic. On top of that they got him to stop injecting methenolone.

Within a few days the bodybuilder was back on form. His lungs were functioning normally again, and an X-ray showed nothing unusual.

Confused lung doctors think methenolone is bad for lungs

Apparently primobolan causes inflammation of the lungs, the doctors write. And hey presto, another side effect of steroids has been discovered.

We dare to disagree. The Spanish case is just too similar to scores of anecdotes going around in the doping world, describing how bodybuilders accidentally inject into a blood vessel instead of into their muscle tissue. If the injection fluid enters the lungs, they quickly develop breathing difficulties and a dry cough. But within a few hours, or at most a few days, the symptoms disappear again.

The white blood cell count doesn't only increase when dangerous micro-organisms enter the body. It also rises when cells die as a result of tissue.

The doctors didn't need to give the bodybuilder antibiotics. If they'd done nothing at all the guy would have got better anyway.

Arch Bronconeumol. 2009 Dec; 45(12): 622-3.