Steroids: Friends or foes?

What person at one point in their life, hasn’t wanted to be bigger, faster and stronger?

In today’s sports world, athletes at both the professional and high school levels are continually abusing anabolic steroids.

“Hundreds of thousands of high school-aged young people are illegally using steroids,” said former Sen. George Mitchell, who investigated doping for Major League baseball.

Since these drugs can only be obtained by a doctor’s prescription, the individuals who purchase them illegally, are consuming doses that are said to be 10-100 times higher than a dose a doctor prescribes for medical purposes, according to a men’s health article on WebMD.

Steroids are simply synthetic versions of hormones that the body produces naturally. Birth control, for example, is a type of steroid.

When used in small doses, steroids can be very beneficial to individuals with cancer and AIDS. However, when people consume anabolic steroids recreationally, they run the risk of creating future health problems for themselves.

“If a man floods his system with testosterone, the pituitary glands decrease the signal to the testicles, and cuts off the body’s natural production of testosterone,” said David Doriguzzi, a physician’s assistant in Lancaster, Calif.

According to Mayo Clinic, a male’s testosterone reaches peak levels during adolescence and early adulthood. As men get older, their testosterone gradually decreases roughly 1 percent a year after age 30, which sometimes leads to testosterone replacement therapy.

Even when taken at extremely small doses, steroids still contain many side effects for both men and women.

In men, taking steroids can cause infertility, baldness, acne, development of breasts and testicle shrinkage.

In women, growth of facial hair, male-pattern baldness, changes in the menstrual cycle and a permanent deepened voice, are possible side effects of using anabolic steroids.

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In adolescents, stunted growth can occur if steroids are taken before the individual reaches their adolescent growth spurt.

In addition, people who inject anabolic steroids, run the risk of contracting or transmitting the HIV/AIDS virus, which causes severe damage to the liver.

Furthermore, steroids are like any other drug on the market, there are benefits, as well as risks. And since each person’s body reacts differently to things, it’s best to think of steroids like a game of craps: place your wager, roll the dice and pray you get the outcome you want.

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