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
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-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.
The Hardcore Anabolic Underground, Available: www.bigsport.com
2. Clinical Reference systems (1997)
Anabolic Steroids, Health Reference Center
Anabolic Steroids, Available: www.steroidsinfo.com
4. Smith, Corolla, & Dewey (1998)
Health, The Basics, Allyn & Baron
5. Author/Publicist: Unknown
The Steroid Facts, Available: www.roid.com
6. Author/Publicist: Unknown
The Steroid Truth, Available: www.steroidtruth.com
Word Count: 1677
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