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The effects of anabolic steroids

You've seen them, and you thought you knew what was going on. The muscle-heads at

the gym, the all-star basketball player, the amazing offensive tackle, and the lightning fast

swimmer. All of them used steroids, and you knew it. They were all unnaturally strong, and

looked like gods. But what you could not see is the terrible side effects which come through the

use of anabolic steroids. These powerful drugs have both positive and negative results from their

use. Along with increased strength and size, users of steroids suffer from ailments like cancer,

bad acne, hair loss, damaged organs and intense mood swings.

Anabolic steroids are a group of muscle building chemicals, which are synthetic versions

of the male hormone, testosterone. Developed in 1935 they were prescribed to aid in muscle

and tissue repair by those who had undergone surgery or had degenerative diseases. Now they

are used by athletes and patients alike. But they are illegal to use if not prescribed by a

physician, and have been banned by nearly all athletic organizations, both professional and


When you think of someone who uses steroids you typically picture someone who is

massive, and whose muscle mass is very well defined. A picture comes to mind of the giant

body builder, who is so big he can't touch his back because his biceps are in the way, but he can

manage to bench press his car. The possible growth and development is amazing. With much

less work necessary, the results can be astounding. Athletes can get bigger, stronger and faster,

with less effort than previous. The limits of an athletes potential with steroids seem to be

unbounded. These are the positive aspects to the use of steroids. One study showed that as

much as ten pounds of lean muscle mass could be gained by a mature adult using steroids over a

years period. The resulting size and strength increase would be greater more easily attained than

without use of steroids.(Taylor pg 45) Also, the type of body structure that may males are

looking for can be easily obtained through the use of steroids. Large pectoral muscles, as well

and big biceps and a well defined stomach are what many teenage users are after. Society

dictates what the current trends are, and our society has dictated that athletic looking men (and

women) are in. But not everyone can be so fortunate to have a beautiful body with their given

gene pool. So through the use of steroids, people can attain the wonderful body that they so

desire. One ex-user commented that after he had used steroids and bulked up, he was much

more popular with the females, and got much more respect from his male peers.(Deacon pg 52)

Steroids are also used for therapeutic applications as well, although their use here is much less

well known. Steroids can be used to promote healing in patients who have recently undergone

surgery, they also improve the appetite and increase protein production. They also help protect

blood for producing bone marrow after radiation therapy. Also, steroids can be used to help

treat skeletal disorders such as osteoporosis broken bones because they aid in the

reconstruction of the bone matrix.(Goldman pg 201) The positive effects of steroids are quite

obvious, and quite powerful.

Unfortunately, the use of steroids tends to result in many damaging side effects in the

users. The mournful stories of dominating athletes who used steroids, who are no longer great at

their one time profession seems to dot the newspaper pages quite regularly. They always say

that they realized too late the damaging effects that the drugs had on their bodies. Steroids can

have many different and adverse reactions with the human body. Some effects are only

cosmetic: hair loss on the head, and a increase of hair on the back, chest and abdomen of males

is sometimes present. Greater concentrations of acne has also been traced to the use of

steroids, as has gynecomastia, the development of abnormal breast tissue in males, although this

is much less frequent.(Yesalis pg 115) More dangerous results are symptoms such as heart

disease, impaired glucose tolerance, hypertension, liver toxicity, jaundice and tumors have all

been linked to the use of anabolic steroids. Steroids tend to increase blood pressure, which

makes the heart pump harder, eventually weakening it. They also prevent the removal of

cholesterol from the walls of veins, which can also have negative effect on the body. In the liver,

elevated levels of bile can be present, as well as peliosis hepatis or blood pools in the liver. Also

liver cancer has been linked to the use of steroids. They can also cause tumor's in the kidney,

known as Wilm's tumor, which is another form of cancer. Also, the extended use of steroids

can cause the tendons to lose their elasticity, and begin to break or tear after extended use of

steroids.(Goldman pg 131) Another problem common to the use of steroids is a psychological

phenomena commonly known as "'roid rage". This constitutes a more aggressively natured

person, who is more subject to mood swings. A typically calm, intelligent person could be

transformed into a crazed senseless being. The slightest upsetting factor could set them off.

These mood swings and shifts tend to be temporary and cease after discontinued use of the

drugs, but some of the other effects are lasting, and can be extremely devastating. Less harmful,

but important as well is the fact that steroids are banned by nearly every athletic organization,

and if it is determined that an athlete used steroids, all medals, trophies, prizes and glory can be

stripped away.

Athletes who train with the use of steroids are taking a huge gamble. Although steroids

can have amazing results, and seem to be the greatest thing on earth, they also hold a cornucopia

of terrible things in store for the person who uses them irresponsibly. They must evaluate for

themselves if the potential physical prowess that they could attain through the use of steroids is

worth the possibility of the devastating side effects. They must also keep in mind the

consequences that they could encounter if they do use steroids, which are an illegal drug.

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