Risk of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease in Bodybuilders

Written by Ben Bunting: BA(Hons), PGCert. Sport & Exercise Nutrition. British Army Physical Training Instructor.


Bodybuilders are often considered the healthiest people on the planet, but research shows that they can be at high risk of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

This disease is caused by abnormal proteins in your brain called prions.

Symptoms usually develop within a year of the start of the disease. However, the illness can be fatal if not treated.

Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease

Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease is one of a group of rare diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs), also called prion diseases.

These are a type of brain damage that causes tiny holes to form in the brain tissue and affects how you think, move and feel.

A prion, a protein-like particle, is what causes CJD and other TSEs. It makes normal proteins fold abnormally, which damages other proteins and causes the neurological symptoms of CJD.

CJD develops sporadically, often in people over age 60. It can also happen in families where members have a similar history of prion disease, such as BSE (mad cow disease) in cattle or scrapie in sheep and goats.

Another kind of CJD, called variant CJD (vCJD), occurs more frequently in younger people.

It’s linked to eating contaminated beef and other products made from animals that have been exposed to a prion.

Rapidly progressive dementia in a sporadic case of vCJD is a challenging diagnosis for doctors, who must try to rule out many other disorders that cause symptoms that are similar.

This is an area of research that requires further clinical trials and observational studies.

There are many tests that can help diagnose CJD, including MRI and spinal taps. These can detect characteristic changes in the brain, especially some that are only found in people with vCJD.

Using these tests and other diagnostics, doctors can make an accurate diagnosis of CJD.

Taking Growth Hormone

Bodybuilders often use growth hormone (HGH) in order to improve their physique and achieve muscle size and strength.

It can help to build and preserve muscle mass, and it can also reduce fat tissue. However, taking too much HGH can lead to serious health problems.

One of the most serious risks of taking growth hormone is Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, which can cause brain damage and eventually death.

This disease is caused by infectious particles called prions, which can damage the brain.

Symptoms of CJD include weakness, fatigue, headaches and difficulty walking. It can also affect your eyesight, hearing and balance. You can get CJD if you are exposed to infected meat or blood products from cows.

This type of disease is rare and affects just a few people each year. It is not spread from person to person through kissing, sneezing or coughing.

Another risk of taking growth hormone is acromegaly, which causes excessive growth of bones, particularly those in the hands, feet and face. It is most common in adults but can happen in children as well.

It is not a life-threatening condition but can be painful and have long-term effects on your health.

Some people with acromegaly may also have high blood pressure or heart disease. They are also more likely to have diabetes, and their skin can become thick and coarse. 

Although bodybuilders claim that growth hormone can help to build lean muscle and burn fat, it is important to remember that the anabolic effect of this hormone only works in certain circumstances.

It is not a miracle drug and it does not work as effectively as steroids for building pure muscle mass.

Injections of growth hormone may also be dangerous when used in combination with other medications and supplements.

For example, taking HGH and insulin together can lead to a higher IGF-1 level, which can increase the chance of cancer. It can also cause insulin resistance.

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Taking Other Medications

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is caused by a build-up of abnormal proteins called prions that attack your brain cells. It is an inherited disease that affects about 1 in every million people. It usually strikes within a year of developing symptoms and is always fatal. 

However, many bodybuilders use a combination of drugs or supplements to speed up their physical transformation and get bigger muscles. These drugs and supplements can cause serious health problems.

Bodybuilders may also take other medications to treat certain health conditions. For example, some bodybuilders take Arimidex or other drugs to lower estrogen levels. Estrogen is important for maintaining a healthy balance of hormones in the body.

Using these medications can increase your risk of liver damage, especially if you are also taking steroids. You should also discuss these medications with your health care provider.

Other medications that can be dangerous for bodybuilders include the anabolic steroid Glycoprolamine (Garcinia cambogia) and the antidepressant bupropion. They are both very powerful drugs, and they can cause severe side effects if taken incorrectly.

Another common drug taken by bodybuilders is clenbuterol, which is a type of beta-blocker. It can increase heart rate and blood pressure, and can cause breathing difficulties. It can also cause sleepiness and muscle weakness.

In addition, some bodybuilders also use a type of anti-inflammatory known as naproxen or ibuprofen to help relieve pain. These medications can increase your risk of kidney and bladder problems if taken together with clenbuterol or other steroids.

Finally, some bodybuilders take a drug that can cause serious damage to the lining of the stomach called proton pump inhibitors.

This is especially true for those who are taking growth hormone, clenbuterol, or other steroids.

A bodybuilder with a history of taking anabolic steroids, clenbuterol, and other medications was recently diagnosed with acute pancreatitis. It should raise concern about the unregulated use of drugs and supplements by bodybuilders.


There's a chance that you may be at risk for CJD. This rare disease occurs when infectious particles called prions damage brain cells. This can lead to dementia and death.

About 1 to 2 cases of CJD occur per million people worldwide each year, most often in older adults. Dementia develops quickly and is fatal.

Symptoms include difficulty thinking, remembering or reasoning and involuntary movements called myoclonus. They also can cause confusion, changes in mood and problems walking or standing up.

It is thought that the faulty protein in the brain known as a prion causes this illness. Researchers haven't yet discovered a cure for CJD or other prion diseases, but some scientists are trying to find compounds that can be used to treat the illness and perhaps prevent it.

Bodybuilders who use high-doses of testosterone to gain muscle are at an increased risk of getting this condition. Using anabolic steroids can cause your heart to become so enlarged that it has a hard time pumping blood.

If you have a family history of neurological disease, you may need to talk with a genetic counselor to figure out your risks for CJD. They can help you decide whether it's safe for you to compete in the sport and what steps to take if you do.

If you are a bodybuilder, your doctor should give you a physical exam and a neurological test. You may need to have a brain biopsy, which is the best way to determine if you have CJD or another prion disease.

A doctor can also order a genetic test to see if you have a gene mutation that increases your risk of this condition.


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