Michael Eriksson's Blog

A Swede in Germany

Death of body builder Rich Piana / Follow-up: Reality disconnect

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Had I known one day ago what happened two days ago, I might have been far more specific:

This Friday, a body builder named Rich Piana died, after* suffering a heart attack, hitting his head falling, and spending several weeks in an induced coma.

*I have read several somewhat conflicting accounts today, including those speculating on opiate use and, obviously, the mandatory “steroid overdose”, but the claims above seem to be reasonably main stream, and I will stick to this scenario for now. Beware, however, that this need not be the exact truth of what happened.

Not only was he one of the people I had in mind when I wrote about the extremes some go to, having watched possibly two dozen of his videos, but I am also reasonably certain that he was the one with the insulin-injecting friend*—and his death is a perfect, if very sad, illustration of some of the problems involved when assigning blame:

*Sometimes the weirdest coincidences occur. I recall e.g. watching “Black Swan” the first time, being blown away, reading up a bit afterwards, and seeing a claim about Oscar-winner Natalie Portman. ???When the hell did she win an Oscar??? Mere hours earlier—for her part in … “Black Swan”.

  1. If drugs were involved in his death, they were so in an indirect manner. They might have caused or contributed to the heart attack, but the cause of death was likely brain related. (And if so, likely because of the blow to the head, possibly in combination with a deliberate decision to “turn off the machines”; remember that the modern criterion for death is the brain, not the heart.)
  2. Among the drugs most likely to have been the cause, we do not have steroids—but various forms of growth hormone. I definitely recall one video discussing how his hands, feet, gut, likely even head, had grown due to growth hormones—and that even he more-or-less took it for granted that his heart was affected too. In as far as steroids were involved, well, he apparently started taking them as a teenager and kept it up for several decades…
  3. The heart attack could have been caused by his eating habits, which included a daily pint of Ben and Jerry’s, tons of fast food, and up to twelve meals a day during some phases—eat like that and a heart attack at 46 is no surprise. At the same time, IIRC, he also used a “ketonic diet”, which effectively amounts to starving the body of carbohydrates, and causing its energy processing to change. I am not aware of any known health problems associated with this, but there is a decided possibility that such extremes have side-effects.
  4. He was a positively enormous, almost grotesquely large, man. Where some body builders have upper arms like other people have thighs, he had upper arms like other body builders (!) have thighs. Just carrying that amount of weight must have been an enormous stress on his heart (and knees, and whatnots).
  5. He was quite extreme in a number of other regards too; some, including endless hours spent in the gym, that could possibly have had some relevance; others, including tattoos, that almost certainly did not.

Those interested can find his YouTube account under https://www.youtube.com/user/1DAYUMAY/. Please beware that the possible first impression of “complete moron” is very far from the truth—on closer inspection, he was a fair bit above the average in terms of intelligence.

To boot, it seems that another body builder, Dallas McCarver, died earlier in the week, with speculation that an insulin over-dose was the cause. (To re-iterate: Insulin is indisputably very dangerous. Even for diabetics, it is merely a lesser evil.)

Written by michaeleriksson

August 27, 2017 at 2:38 pm

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