Premature Death in Bodybuilders: What Do We Know?

Sports Med. 2023 May;53(5):933-948. doi: 10.1007/s40279-022-01801-0. Epub 2023 Jan 30.


Premature deaths in bodybuilders regularly make headlines and are cited as evidence that bodybuilding is a dangerous activity. A wealth of research has revealed elite athletes typically enjoy lower mortality rates than non-athletes, but research on bodybuilder lifespan is surprisingly limited. Anabolic androgenic steroid (AAS) use is commonly cited as a key contributor to morbidity and premature mortality in bodybuilders, but this area of research is highly nuanced and influenced by numerous confounders unique to bodybuilding. It is quite possible that bodybuilders are at elevated risk and that AAS use is the primary reason for this, but there remains much unknown in this realm. As global participation in bodybuilding increases, and healthcare providers play a more active role in monitoring bodybuilder health, there is a need to identify how numerous factors associated with bodybuilding ultimately influence short- and long-term health and mortality rate. In this Current Opinion, we discuss what is currently known about the bodybuilder lifespan, identify the nuances of the literature regarding bodybuilder health and AAS use, and provide recommendations for future research on this topic.

MeSH terms

  • Anabolic Agents* / adverse effects
  • Anabolic Androgenic Steroids
  • Athletes
  • Humans
  • Mortality, Premature*
  • Testosterone Congeners


  • Anabolic Agents
  • Testosterone Congeners
  • Anabolic Androgenic Steroids