Imagine this. The year is 1999 and the New York Jets are playing the Minnesota Vikings in the last Super Bowl of the twentieth century. It is late in the fourth quarter, the score is Jets 21, Vikings 20. The Vikings are faced with a crucial fourth and one with a minute, ten left to play in the fourth quarter. The Vikings decide it’s do or die and are forced to go for it. The teams come to the line of scrimmage and the quarterback starts his cadence. The ball is snapped and the quarterback hands the ball off to the running back. There is no hole and the running back is forced to try and dive over the line for the first down. As he is in the air the middle linebacker, Joe Smith, lays a crushing hit on the him and stops him one foot short of the first down marker. The Jets end up winning the game thanks to the great defensive play made by Joe Smith. Joe Smith’s overpowering strength and size seems to have won the game for the Jets and it just so happens that he might have acquired that strength and size through the use of an illegal drug known as anabolic steroids. At the moment everything seems peachy keen, but was it really worth it? Now that I have set the stage, you have probably guessed that my research paper is on anabolic steroids. In this paper I hope to show you all of the effects of steroids, both positive and negative. Steroids are a serious matter and a very controversial issue in our world today. Many people take the side that they shouldn’t be an illegal drug because all they do is help people gain strength and size. They feel that even though they might cause a few side effects they should be legal because even some over-the-counter drugs cause side effects similar to the side effects of steroids. On other side of this argument is the person who thinks that enhancing a person’s performance by building strength and muscle tissue gives him an unfair advantage over the person who has acquired his strength and size naturally. One thing my researchers seem to agree on unanimously is that steroids are not even remotely as dangerous to your health as the media tries to make us think. The fact is that steroid use is more abundant than most people might think. Professionals, amateurs, high school students, actors, models, bodybuilders, and even children as young as 13 are using steroids to give them that competitive edge, make them bigger and stronger, and enhance their physical appearance. Most people don’t understand why athletes are so much bigger, stronger, and faster than just a few years ago. Evolution does not work that fast. In a recent Sports Illustrated article 90% of professional athletes admitted that they once used steroids or are currently using steroids and 99% of professional body builders swear by steroids to be competitive. The bottom line is that people use steroids because they work, regardless of the consequences and they will continue to use them until something better comes along. I hope I can shed some light on just what steroids really do and what good things and bad things come along with the use of them. It is thought that about 100 years ago at least one scientist discovered that testosterone is the cause of masculine features in males, but back then no one could prove it. In the 1930’s researchers tested anabolic steroids on dogs and discovered that it increased muscle size. In the 1940’s anabolic steroids were given to POW’s that were suffering from malnutrition in order to help rebuild their muscles. Now starts the era that athletes really started using steroids, the 1950’s. It was during the 1950’s that athletes in Europe and Russia started using steroids in order to build muscle size and strength. The rest of the world really didn’t notice the use until Russians and Europeans started shattering weight lifting records (The Steroid Facts). Dr. Ziegler was the first researcher to officially prove that if a person was given increased testosterone he would gain muscle mass and strength. In 1956, Dr. Ziegler along with CIBA labs created Dianabol (Methandrostenolone or D-bol). By 1964 all the steroids that are in use today had already been invented and were being used by great numbers of athletes. Back in those days not much was known about doses so they were experimented with and passed from person to person by word of mouth. In the early days of steroids athletes took steroids in extremely high doses and very long cycles. This caused extreme cases of side effects, but dramatic gains in strength and muscle mass (Anabolic Steroids). Anabolic-androgenic steroids are a family of hormones which includes the natural male hormone, testosterone, along with a number of synthetic compounds that have been synthesized over the last forty years. The reason they have to be mixed with synthetic compounds is because natural testosterone only lasts a short period of time in the body, thus making the results not very good compared to the longer lasting synthetic mixture (The Steroid Truth). Steroids can be taken two ways. Orally in pill form or by injection into the muscle. Once they enter the bloodstream, they are distributed to organs and muscles throughout the body. After reaching these organs, the steroids surround individual cells in the organ and then pass through the cell membranes to enter the cytoplasm of the cells. Once in the cytoplasm, the steroids bind to specific receptors and then enter the nucleus of the cells. The steroid-receptor complex is then able to alter the functioning of the genetic material and stimulate the production of new proteins. These are the proteins that carry out the effects of the steroids. One problem that occurs with steroid use is that they send weird messages to the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is in charge of the bodys hormone and testosterone levels. When steroids are taken it becomes confused and production of hormones and testosterone is greatly reduced. Steroids also affect the functioning of neurons and the limbic system. The limbic system is in charge of many things such as learning, memory, and regulation of moods. So when steroids are taken it can cause learning disabilities, loss of memory, and dramatic mood swings (The Steroid Facts). There are three types of steroids: hydrocortisone, female sex hormones, and male sex hormones. Hydrocortisone steroids are a medical form of steroids found in creams and oils and are used to control rashes, itching, and inflamation. They are not thought to be addictive. Female sex hormones, also known as estrogen and progestogens, cause the development of secondary sexual characteristics in women and maintain the female reproduction system. These are also not thought to be addictive. Male sex hormones, or testosterone, lead to the development of male secondary sexual characteristics and maintain the male reproductive system. Testosterone drugs have just recently been thought to be addictive (Anabolic Steroids). As I mentioned before there are two ways to take steroids. Orally in pill form or by injections in to the muscle. Oral steroids are becoming increasingly popular because they stay in the body for only a couple weeks after their use is stopped. The down side of oral steroids is that they cause more damage to the liver and kidneys than injectable steroids do. Injectable steroids also stay in the body for up to several months after use making the person at risk of failing a drug test. Injectable steroids are used by injecting the steroid into the muscles (butt, thigh, or shoulder). It is also quite popular by users to "stack," or take a couple different types of steroids at once to maximize gains. Steroids are usually taken in cycles which are periods of time that a steroid is taken. There is no evidence that shows just how long a cycle should be so it is all a guess and passed by word of mouth. Some of the most common mistakes people make with steroids are using excessive dosages, staying on steroids too long, not eating right while on them, not training right or enough, not getting regular blood tests, using the wrong steroids, and using counterfeit steroids (The Hardcore Anabolic Underground). Now comes the part everyone is expecting, the side effects. So far these things don’t sound too bad, right?. These side effects are liver damage and cancer, kidney disease and cancer, cardiovascular disease, risk of HIV and Hepatitis B and C from contaminated needles, depression, mood swings, acne, bad breath, baldness, decreased sex drive, water retention, muscle cramps, aching joints, increased risk of serious bodily injury, insomnia, immune system failure, infertility, decreased testicular size, gynecomastia (growth of breasts), hair growth, high blood pressure, jaundice, and menstrual cycle changes. As you can see there are many, but some people still swear by steroids (Donatelle & Davis, 1998, Anabolic Steroids, 1997, The Steroid Truth Steroids aren’t just for illegal uses, however. There are in fact many medical uses. Lately, many people with aids/HIV and other diseases that cause muscles to become weak and deteriorate have used steroids to safely build healthy, lean, muscle mass, and improve overall health. Doctors also use steroids to replace testosterone in males after removing testicular cancer. They are also given to adolescent males who have pituitary malfunctions in order to cause them to go into puberty. Unfortunately new laws are making it harder for these people to get steroids and without them life is very hard (The Steroid Facts). I hope I have given you a good idea of exactly what steroids are, what they’re used for, and if they are really as bad as everybody says. In my opinion, even though there is a lot to be gained, there is also a lot to be lost. One unfortunate note is that this is a growing problem and until something new and better comes along, people are going to keep on using steroids. Bibliography References 1. Bigsport The Hardcore Anabolic Underground, Available: 2. Clinical Reference systems (1997) Anabolic Steroids, Health Reference Center 3. CEASE,INC. Anabolic Steroids, Available: 4. Smith, Corolla, & Dewey (1998) Health, The Basics, Allyn & Baron Boston 5. Author/Publicist: Unknown The Steroid Facts, Available: 6. Author/Publicist: Unknown The Steroid Truth, Available: Word Count: 1677

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