Steroid Use and Abuse
The Hidden Dangers
Chadron State College
Athletes today must make a choice: to use performance-enhancing drugs (steroids) or face a competition at a disadvantage. While some athletes may not bend to pressure to succeed a large number will. Dr Gabe Mirken did a survey of more than 100 runners asking them the following question: If you could take a pill that would guarantee you'd win an Olympic gold medal, but would kill you within the year, would you take it? The number of positive responses, over 50 percent, is very sobering. (Clark)
Not only are health factors of using steroids dangerous but the repercussions of sporting organizations equally punishable. Athletes in college may lose up to one year of eligibility due to a positive test. A high school student may face the possibility of expulsion, and have to pay the high cost of drug treatment. Professional athletes can face the loss of income due to positive tests, and must face the criticism of public opinion.
Using anabolic steroids can cause life lasting side effects. Anabolic steroids effect the user's body and mind in an extreme matter. Men and women at all ages must be aware of the danger resulting from this performance-enhancing drug. This study will provide insight on the negative effects of anabolic steroids on the cardiovascular, reproductive system, liver and kidney as well as psychological behavior.
Steroids are ingested into body in two different forms oral and injectible. Oral is often preferred because the absence of a needle. Also when taken in oral form a steroid must be filtered through the liver twice. The injectible form of steroids is one of two bases water base or an oil base. Water based steroids are less toxic to the kidneys but do not have the same potency of oil based. Therefore larger amounts of water based steroids are taken for the same effect of an oil based.
Some of the possible health side effects of using anabolic steroids are alterations in liver function, cardiovascular system impairment, hypertension, reproductive process alterations, increased aggression, gynecomastia, virilizing effects, tissue damage, and joint soreness. (Hatfield) Other effects will be discussed later. The use and abuse of steroids depending on the type and dossage, such functions as carbohydrate metabolism, protein metabolism, and lipid metabolism can disrupt liver function. Liver function may not be performed at the level of someone who is not using steroids. Breathing may be affected by different types of steroids along with the blood ability to clot. The metabolism of Glucose, tri-glycerides and cholesterolis is impaired, potentially leading to astherosclerosis. Also resting blood glucose levels and glucose tolerance. Elevated blood pressure over a prolonged period is known to potentiate a host of cardiovascular diseases. Anabolic steroidis quite frequently accompanied by considerable increases in blood pressure. When steroids are administered via oral or injected routes, normally secreted testosterone is no longer needed in the same amounts. With the need not the same the body will shut off the supply of testosterone. When the over-supply is done the body will again begin to produce testosterone, but it has yet to be determined if this level reaches the previous level. Some athletes will use Gonadatropin to speed up the process of testosterone production. This is a substance that is made from pregnant women's urine and causes a natural increase in testosterone. An extremely common effect of steroid use is increased aggressively. Testosterone is known to be a major contributory factor in the higher level of aggressiveness in of men than women are. Men can develop a gynecomastia, which is the development of breasts, the extent of condition depends on the dosage that is taken.
Previous studies have focused on cardiovascular effects of anabolic steroids. Reports of ten fatal cases have been published due to the exceeded doses of anabolic steroids. The deterrence of lung capacity can result in difficulties to breathe, which results in long-term health related issue. Echocardiography studies in bodybuilders using anabolic steroids reported a mild hypertrophy of the lungs with decreased diastolic relaxation (Kuipers 1998). Anabolic steroids also effect the cardiovascular system in the following ways: enlargement of the heart, a precursor to heart failure; high blood pressure; atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries, a precursor to coronary disease; elevated cholesterol levels; heart palpitations; heart attack; stroke; anaphylactic and septic shock (Clark 1988).
Another study outlines how the male and female reproductive systems are negatively effected. Anabolic steroids are derivatives of testosterone, which has strong genitotropic effects (Kuipers 1998). In males, excess testosterone is converted to estrogen, which causes the development of female characteristics. The use of anabolic steroids cause atrophy of the testes, as well as decrease the sperm cell production. Anabolic steroids increase sexual desire and also the risk of committing sexual assault. Excess testosterone in females has the opposite effect, causing menstrual irregularities, sexual dysfunction and the formation of male characteristics.
Prolong heavy use of anabolic steroids can permanently damage the liver causing cancer, jaundice, bleeding and hepatitis. Anabolic steroids can impair the kidneys leading to kidney stones and kidney disease. Medical journals report 33 cases of liver cancer in people after steroid treatments. In other healthy young athletes using steroids, two have developed liver cancer and two have died from kidney tumors. Many steroid advocates will state that these cases just coincidental.
However, the cause and effect relationship of liver disorders and anabolic steroids is strengthened by the observation of improvement in the condition after discontinuance of the drug in most cases (Bamberger & Yaeger 1997). There have been reports of addiction behavior and habituation among anabolic steroid users. Affective and psychotic symptoms, often characterized by impulsive, aggressive, violent behavior called a "roid rage" are known to occur during the use of anabolic steroids. Anabolic steroid users may become dependent on the drug, with symptoms of withdrawal after cessation of drug use (Bahrke, Yessalis & Wright 1990). Mood swings, manic episodes, paranoid jealousy, extreme irritability, delusions and depression, also may occur during the use of anabolic steroids.
Anabolic steroids is becoming the quick answer for many athletes, bodybuilders and people who want their athletic performance to reach a different level and the strive to obtain the "perfect body." There are many risks involved when taking anabolic steroids. Users need to educate themselves and be aware of the life-long side effects of this performance-enhancing drug. This study will address the negative effects of anabolic steroids on the (1) cardiovascular system, (2) reproductive systems in male and females, (3) liver and kidney, (4) and the psychological behaviors.
Participants in this study consisted of 72 male and female adolescents ranging from the age from 16-19. Of these 24 (12 male and 12 female), were self-identified as serious weight trainers or bodybuilders who reported using anabolic steroids and were currently either on an anabolic steroid use cycle or between cycles. Another 24 (12 male and
12 female), consisted of adolescents who identified themselves as serious weight trainers, who reported no use of anabolic steroids.
Serious weight training was defined as weight training three or more times a week. The third group of 24 (12 male and 12 female), adolescents consisted of non-athletic, non-weight trainers who did not participate in competitive, organized sports. Both male and female subjects were chosen to identify the effects of both genders.
Both athletic anabolic steroid user and nonuser were secured through the personal s with operators of various gyms in the Western Nebraska area, through s with athletes at those gyms, and through s with athletes at bodybuilding events. The non-athlete, non-weight-training sample was obtained through heath education classes at a senior high school located in the same geographic area.
All subjects from the anabolic steroid user, and weight training non-user groups were paid ten dollars for their participation in the study. The non-athlete non-users were paid five dollars for their participation. All subjects were offered feedback regarding the results and findings of the research.
All interviews and ratings were conducted on an individual basis. The strong assurances of anonymity that were provided were critical to obtaining valid data, since the adolescent steroid user is engaging in an illegal activity which is currently listed under the Federal Controlled Substances Act (BonDurant, 1991).
Participants from each group were administered a brief personal background questionnaire, the MAPI, the POMS, and a structured interview, including an anabolic steroid knowledge test and questions about physical health symptoms reported associated with anabolic steroid use (e.g., sleep problems, gynecomastia, shrunken testicles). While participants in the anabolic steroid user group and the athletic non-user group completed these materials, these participants were rated on physical characteristics commonly associated with anabolic steroid use (e.g., acne, muscular density, and muscular hardness). These ratings, as well as the steroid knowledge assessment, were made in an attempt to collaborate participants' self-reported use or non-use of anabolic steroids.
Clark, Michael A realistic approach for strength and conditioning coaches to deal with steroids, NSCA Journal, Volume 10Number 2, 1988
Hatfield, Fredrick,. Anabolic Steroids What kind and how many, Fitness Systems 1982
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