The Curious Case of Antonio Silva

Antonio Silva

Antonio ‘Bigfoot’ Silva has Acromegaly (obviously). He had a tumor in his pituitary gland, which is located just below his brain that produced monstrous amounts of Growth hormone. This hormone, in addition to testosterone is responsible for height increase during adolescence. When the growth plate cartilage fuses, the long bones no longer grow and thus, height no longer increases. However, the small bones of the hands and feet continue to grow, giving rise to ‘Bigfoot’s “heavy hands.” As a physician, board certified in Endocrinology, diabetes and Metabolism and Internal Medicine, I’m particularly intrigued by his previous history of testing positive for performance enhancing drugs (ie. PEDs).

First, most patients with Acromegaly have low testosterone levels. There are few reasons for this. First, Growth hormone secreting tumors commonly co-secrete Prolactin which causes exceedingly high prolactin levels. Excess prolactin in men causes a decline in testosterone levels as a result of direct inhibition of Growth Hormone releasing hormone. Secondly, the pituitary gland contains many additional hormones including Leutinizing Hormone (LH) and Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH). LH and FSH work synergistically to stimulate testosterone production. Due to mechanical compression of the tumor on contiguous cells that normally secrete LH and FSH, testosterone production declines. Thirdly, Silva underwent pituitary surgery entailing resection of the tumor in 2007. A common outcome of this surgery is a reduction in hormone levels, most typically, Testosterone.

big foot silva

In 2008, Silva tested positive for Boldenone after he won the EliteXC Heavyweight title. Boldenone, a predominantly anabolic steroid with a very long half-life will suppress Silva’s own testosterone production for a considerable duration of time.

Thus, there are a myriad of reasons for Antonio Silva to have low testosterone levels. I would be surprised if he indeed, has normal levels of testosterone. He truly deserves a Therapeutic Use Exemption from any and all Athletic Commissions, including the California State Athletic Commission that had originally suspended him.