The Truth About Anabolic Steroids
The Truth About Anabolic Steroids
By definition, anabolic steroids are the synthetic versions of the naturally occurring male sex hormone testosterone. Recent statistics report that over 3 million athletes and bodybuilders in this country alone have used anabolic steroids. A recent Sports Illustrated article has stated that 90% of professional athletes have at one time taken some form of illegal performance enhancing drugs. Without a doubt, they are illegal; but there is some controversy over whether or not they are safe. Most athletes have heard the horror stories about using steroids. However, there are perfectly safe uses for steroids. Yet, the horror stories are true.
Although steroids were first used by Hitler to increase aggression in his soldiers, they were soon adapted for medicinal use. For instance, the effect of rapid weight gain can be used to save lives. People with diseases that cause them to rapidly lose weight are often prescribed steroids. One example of this is AIDS wasting syndrome. Steroids may also be prescribed to increase muscle growth in seriously under-developed individuals. Another example is severe anemia. Those who have severe difficulty absorbing the nutrients that they need can be prescribed anabolic steroids. Perhaps one of the most common disorders for which steroids are prescribed is hormone deficiency in males. As stated above, steroids are synthetic male growth hormones. Those who are unable to produce testosterone must be given synthetic testosterones in the form of steroids. Another legal usage of steroids is as follows. Steroids are often prescribed to patients recovering from surgery, especially young boys. A few other disorders for which steroids are used are bone pain accompanying osteoporosis, hereditary angioedema, and metastatic breast cancer in women. For all these reasons, many argue that steroids are purely beneficial. However, some people have used steroids unnecessarily and had horrible results.
Anabolic steroids, as we know them today, were almost completely invented. The Russians developed many of them after discovering a way to neutralize their virilizing side effects. One side effect that nobody could predict was the spread of AIDS through needle sharing over the last 3 decades. Steroids became popular among body builders in the middle fifties. Since then, many side effects have been associated with the use of anabolic steroids. Yet, this does little to frighten away the overwhelming tempt of an easier and quicker path to a great body. Many of these people seeking firm pectoral muscles instead end up with gynecomastia, a condition in which men develop breasts. In men, the testicles atrophy, or degenerate, and sexual drive peaks, then becomes nearly non-existent. While this is reversible, many effects of steroids are not. Degenerative heart disease, or arteriosclerotic heart disease, can never be reversed, and causes many athletes to suffer heart attacks, often resulting in death. Women can suffer from an enlarged clitoris, deepened voice, and male pattern bald ness, none of which are reversible. Steroids have ill effects on the nervous system as well. Those who use steroids are subject to mood swings, depression, violent behavior, and even psychoses. With all this danger, it is difficult to understand the reasoning behind using steroids.
To recapitulate, steroids have both positive and negative uses. Steroids can be used to treat the very ill. Furthermore, they can even be used to save lives. Yet, some people abuse them, and as with all drugs, they suffer for it. The side effects from improper use are frightening, even deadly. However, if used in a safe environment, under a physician s supervision, anabolic steroids are a healthy and useful synthetic hormone that should not be feared.
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