Steroid abuse in Athletes.

For years anabolic steroids have been abused by both professional as well as younger athletes. Many world famous athletes, such as Lance Armstrong and most recently the baseball all star Alex Rodriguez have all admitted to using performance enhancing drugs in order to get that competitive edge. This rise in steroid usage is especially concerning among younger athletes.

These days, there is no limit to what people will do in order to win. This win win mentality is seen all over the world in all areas of our lives. Financial titans manipulate markets in order to make the most profit. Athletes, often times, also go to extremes in order to beat their competitors. These intense competitive attitudes are further fueled by coaches and parents who push the athlete win at any cost. Athletes seek performance enhancing drugs in order to win that trophy or even scholarships or perhaps a place on a professional team.

Statistics show that it is estimated that up to 3 million United States citizens have used anabolic steroids at some point in their lives. Between 3.9% and 13% of high school boys who were surveyed reported using performance enhancement drugs. It is even estimated that up to 3.5% of high school girls surveyed had also reported using steroids. Over 60% of those surveyed were at least 16 years old when they first began. Many of these users even reported using multiple cycles. However, a later study that was conducted in 1993 on seventh graders living in Modesto, California reported a usage rate of about 3.5%. Another study done in students living in Massachusetts found that around 2.5% of students between the ages of 9 and 13 years of age had reported steroid usage as well.

A study done by the NCAA, also know as the National Collegiate Athletic Association found that there was an overall usage rate of about 1.5% across each of its three athletic divisions. Of those surveyed, 46% reported that they used steroids in order to increase their performance ability. The other 53% reported that the main reason for steroid usage was to recover from an athletic injury. About 1% of those surveyed indicated lack of availability as their main reason for not using performance enhancing drugs such as anabolic steroids.

Athletes use performance enhancing drugs due to the positive effects that it has on the body. Anabolic steroids help the body maintain itself leaner, increase muscle size and strength, metabolize proteins and other positive effects such as the synthesis of collagen. Furthermore, these affects are reached many times with our without exercise. The most notable affects have been noted when dosages are used in conjunction with a proper diet as well as protein and calorie consumption.

Steroids may be ingested in a variety of manners including oral as well inter-muscular injections. Anabolic steroids may also be applied on the skin the form of creams. Furthermore, performance enhancing drugs are usually taken in cycles between 6 and 12 weeks. Injectible testosterone is favored due to the fact that it is less toxic to the skin. However, oral forms are often times most favored by athletes due to the fact that they clean out of the system quickly.  “Stacking” occurs when multiple steroids are used simultaneously. Athletes will also increase doses in a process known as “pyramiding” in order to maximize the binding of steroid receptors.

There are other forms of steroids also known as synthetic steroids. This form of anabolic steroid was originally designed in order to avoid detection. Known as THG, this form of synthetic steroids is banned in the United States. Therefore, there is no long term studies associated with this derivative. Other forms of steroids are called testosterone precursors. These include both androstedione and DHEA. Both supplements are known increase muscle mass and increase fat loss.

Although performance enhancing drugs are known to have many advantages, it is important to also know the risks associated with usage. Anabolic steroids can affect the following bodily functions: cardiovascular, reproduction, hepatic, endocrine, psychological and dermatological.

Anabolic steroids are also known to affect liver function. Performance enhancing drugs can also have an affect on the body’s lipid profile. Steroids can also cause hypertension and the retention of fluids as well as increases in blood volume. There is also an increased risk of sudden cardiac death as well as myocardial infarction and cardiomyopathy. Too much testosterone in men can also actually cause the production of estrogen which may cause changes in men such as a higher pitched voice or gynecomastia. Anabolic steroid usage in women may cause problems with menstruation as well as a lower pitched more male sounding voice. Steroid usage can also lead to balding as well. It is also known that steroids may affect behavior and cause aggression, depression or even mania. These effects are short lived once the user discontinues usage.

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