Most high school, college, amateur and professional athletes participate in sports for the opportunity to pit their abilities against those of their peers, and to experience the satisfaction that comes from playing to their potential. Others do so to satisfy a desire for recognition and fame. Unfortunately, that creates some atheletes who are determined to win at any cost. And, they may use that determination to justify the use of anabolic steroids, despite evidence that these drugs can inflict irreversible physical harm and have significant side effects.
Anabolic steroids, commonly called "roids," juice, hype or pump, are powerful prescription drugs. They are controlled substances that people abuse in high doses to boost their athletic performance. Anabolic steroids are not the same as steroid medications, such as prednisone or hydrocortisone, that are legitimately used to treat asthma and inflammation of the skin or other parts of the body.
Anabolic means body building tissue. Anabolic steroids help build muscle tissue and increase body mass by acting like the body's natural male hormone, testosterone. However, steroids cannot improve an athlete's agility or skill. Many factors determine athletic ability, including genetics, body size, age, sex, diet and how hard the athlete trains.
Anabolic steroids are a chemical derivative of testosterone, the "male sex hormone. But, because of their potentially serious side effects, they must be prescribed and used only under close medical supervision. Under both federal and New York State Law, anabolic steroids may only be prescribed by an authorized prescriber after a face-to-face examination of a patient.
The number of athletes who abuse anabolic steroids is unknown. The NFL tests its athletes for illicit use. Players who test positive face suspension and, upon testing positive a second time, are expelled from the League. MLB players are tested once a year, and if they test positive they can be suspended for up to ten days. If a player tests positive after the first test, they can be suspended without pay for up to one year.
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Sports Medicine condemn the use of anabolic steroids for enhancement of sports performance or body building. Believing that anabolic steroids can improve competitiveness and performance, uninformed or misguided athletes, sometimes encouraged by coaches or parents, abuse these drugs to build lean muscle mass, promote aggressiveness, and increase body weight.
This is called "stacking. What they don't know, or choose to ignore, is the damage to the body that abuse of these drugs can cause. Over the counter dietary supplements, such as creatine, should be used with caution. Manufacturers claim they can build muscles and improve strength without the side effects of steroids. Taken in small doses, nutritional supplements may not be harmful.
Before taking any over-the-counter nutritional supplements or adding them to your regimen, talk with your doctor. When taken in large doses and combined with alcohol or aspirin, or when combined with stimulents such as caffeine or ephedrine, nutritional supplements may become dangerous. Creatine can cause short-term cramping and diarrhea. While less is known about long-term use, creatine has been linked to muscle injury and kidney problems.
Creatine and other dietary supplements are gaining popularity. Manufacturers claim they can build muscles, and improve strength and stamina, without the side effects of steroids. Dietary supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration FDA and are not held to the same strict standards as drugs. If abused, they can have harmful effects. New York State law bans the sale of dietary supplements containing the stimulent ephedra.
When improperly used, anabolic steroids can cause serious health problems such as high blood pressure and heart disease; liver damage and cancers; and, stroke and blood clots. See more conditions. Request Appointment. Healthy Lifestyle Tween and teen health. Products and services. Free E-newsletter Subscribe to Housecall Our general interest e-newsletter keeps you up to date on a wide variety of health topics.
Sign up now. Performance-enhancing drugs and teen athletes Performance-enhancing drugs can tempt teen athletes. By Mayo Clinic Staff. Show references Kliegman RM, et al. Performance-enhancing aids. In: Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. Elsevier; Accessed Feb. Miller M, et al. The young athlete. Steroids and other appearance and performance enhancing drugs APEDs. National Institute on Drug Abuse.
White ND, et al. Performance-enhancing drug use in adolescence. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine. Natural Medicines. LaGerche A, et al. Cardiovascular effects of performance-enhancing drugs. Snyder PJ. Use of androgens and other hormones by athletes. LaBotz M, et al. Use of performance-enhancing substances. Steroid and hormone abuse. The Hormone Foundation. Mudrak J, et al.
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