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Negative Effects of Steroids

The intent of this essay is to show that steroids have many negative effects and that steroids, and other natural supplements, should be closely studied by the FDA.  This essay will also support the claim that the professional sports industry needs to eliminate steroid use and set a good example for younger athletes.

     Over one million American seek short cuts to larger muscles and greater endurance with anabolic steroids and other performance enhancing drugs.  Steroids are drugs that act like chemical in the body.  Most steroids are transformed into testosterone when they enter the body.  Testosterone is a male growth hormone.  While user may gain short-term results, they are seriously shortchanging their health (Kalawalski 13-15).

       Some of the ill effects of the drugs are damage to the kidneys and liver.  A person can also alter the balance of the natural hormones.  This can cause detrimental affects to the body.  The effects of you natural hormones being out of balance can last several years after being off the drugs.  Some male user form breasts due to the use of steroids.  Because of the increase in testosterone, steroids can cause serious acne problems.  When used by teens is can cause stunted growth.  Other side effects include genital changes, water retention, yellow eyes, coronary artery disease, ligament injuries, high blood pressure, changes in cholesterol levels, sterility and liver disease.  The list goes on and on.  Women that use steroids run the risk of male pattern baldness.  Some effects of steroids are even worse.  Some people fall into comas after injecting the drugs, some may even die from the injections (Kalawalski 13-15).

     Although steroids have many negative effects, they have many needed medical purposes.  Androgens have many legitimate medical uses, such as the use for treatment of hypogonadal men to compensate for the lack of endogenous production.  Anabolic steroids are also helpful for the treatment of certain adolescent diseases, some types of anemias, and for a relatively rare form of edema.  Other clinical uses focus on the tissue building and anti-catabolic effects, such as in the treatment of burn victims, AIDS, or HIV positive patients, or patients malnourished from disease or old age (Bellino 1).

     Probably one of the most well known ways for using steroids other than for the building of muscle for competition is for it's quick healing results of inflamed or swollen joints after just a few days of use.  Today, pharmaceutical companies make dozens of different corticosteroid drugs to treat allergies, asthma, skin inflammations, arthritis, and connective-tissue diseases such as lupus (Bellino 1).

     The most well known reason for people using steroids is for the quick muscle growth.  Anabolic steroids have been around for 40 years.  At first they were hailed for their ability in improving strength and stamina but now they are condemned as unnatural and dangerous to the health of an athlete, particularly younger ones (Bellino 2).

     Throughout the history of sports, athletes have looked for ways to gain an edge over the competition.  If done the right way athletes  enhance their performance through vigorous training and practice.  As the years have progressed some athletes have decided that this isn't enough.  They have tried to further their athletic skills though drug use (Denham 362).

 Steroids are one of the main drugs used in sports to improve performance.  Although, steroids can cut body fat and increase muscle tissue, they are terrible for the human body.  They affect all parts of the body and over long periods of time the effects are almost always negative (Brink 1).

      A basic description of how steroids work, without using a bunch of medical terms and different types of amino acids, is that they are supplements that the body transforms into testosterone in the body.  Some of them can boost the levels as much as 1500%.  Steroids will pump up your pecs and shrink you testes.  It boosts the formation of red blood cells in men and enhance their ability to carry oxygen.  Testosterone also makes facial hair coarser and skin thicker.  Men who takes steroids can also become very aggressive as the testosterone fuels aggression.  In women it can also boost their testosterone and cause then to get male features such as facial hair, coarser skin, broad chin, and a depper voice. (Brink 2).

 Steroids are bad for all people but especially the young and old.  In the younger people it can stop hormones from being released and you will not grow to your full height.  In older people it can cause the enlargement of the prostate which can lead to prostate cancer (Brink 2).

      Every year younger and younger kids are wanting to improve their bodies through the use of steroids. Bellino says that he think it is true that kids are smarter earlier.  Like an eight year old today knows more about society than an eight year old 25 years ago and just because they are smarter doesn't mean they have the common sense to distinguish between the things that will harm their bodies.  He is not saying eight year olds use steroids but you get the point (Bellino 3).

     Jennings speculates that people who you would think are the most self-conscious about health are the people who take this dangerous drug.  They are the athletes.  There salaries are so large that there is more expected of them than can be achieved through natural working out and practice.  They feel they have to do what they have to do to stay ahead of the game and competition no matter what the consequences (Jennings 2).

     The drug abuse problem is starting to take its toll on younger people as well.  Teenagers have started to use the drug before they are even out of high school.  There needs to be a better way to educate children before it is too late.  Schools need programs set up to help with this problem.  There is also a problem with athletes that use the drugs because they are role models for the children (Brink 3).

     Professional athletes that use the drugs are setting a bad example for the rest of society.  When athletes are caught using drugs they will usually go to a drug rehabilitation program, pay a fine that doesn't really mean anything because it doesn't compare to the salaries that they are paid, and serve a short probation.  When they return to the game you don't hear another word about their drug abuse.  The problems are swept under the rug and the athletes are once again built up to be super heroes.  This gives teenagers and even children of younger ages the idea that they can use the drugs because their favorite athlete does and he doesn't get in any trouble.  Jennings thinks there should be a way of punishing the athletes so that the rest of society realize that there are consequences for using illegal substances to enhance ability (Jennings 2).

     Good example of athletes that are made to look like heroes are Mark McGwire and Florence Griffith Joyner.

 Mark McGwire uses androstenedione.  It is an over the counter drug but technically it does the same thing as steroids.  Little studies have been done, but as far asinvestigators can tell it is transformed into testosterone in the body.  Denham really feels that andro and creatine will be found as very harmful to the kindneys and liver and will be taken off the market in the next five to six years (Denham 364).

     McGwire's use of the drug was exposed in the news across America, but is was over-shadowed by his battle for the home run title.  Very few people even talked about the fact that McGwire used performance enhancing drugs to help his build muscle faster.  After he won the home run title he was once again looked at as "superman" (Denham 364).

     Flo Jo was suspected of drug abuse when she won her gold medals in the Olympics.  She was tested ten years after the Olympics and came up negative, but most steroids are out of a person's system within weeks.  She was idolized by millions, so no other discussions came up on the topic of her drug use until her death.  She was said to have died in a fit of epileptic seizures.  Later investigations showed she died of cardiac problems, a health problem that can be brought on by steroid use.  When this cam to light, all of there family and supporters stuck to their stories of the epileptic seizure.  In the end, it was all covered up and forgotten by the public and she was viewed as a true American hero (Denham 363-365).

     The stories of these two athletes are good examples how athletes break rules and don't receive the punishment that, later in life, could save their lives.  Although Mark McGwire isn't breaking any rules set by the Major League Association he is still setting the example that drugs can be used to get an advantage over everyone else  (Denham 367).

     Steroids are abuse by people of all ages.  Many high school athletes are turning to other options to help their ability.  Many of the athletes are turning to some form of performance enhancing drugs.  The drug abuse also doesn't have any gender barriers.  Five percent of male high school athletes have used steroids and two percent of women use them.  This is the reason that there needs to be educational program set up to help children make the right decisions before it is too late (Kalawalski 14-15).

     A survey was recently done on what children from the ages of 9 to 13 believe about steroids.  They asked both children that have and haven't used steroids.  The poll showed that 47 percent of users said steroids make muscles bigger.  Out of people that haven't used 43 percent of them said they also thought the drugs made muscles bigger (Denham 367).

     This shows that young children also know about steroids, but that they probably don't know the side-effects on the body.  This could be changed so easily if teachers just took the time to inform their students of the risk of the drugs.  Schools focus a lot on drug education for marijuana and other drugs but steroids are often over looked (Denham 367).

     Although the affects are very harmful to the body, there are sill people out there that feel that they need something to improve the performance.  Between the media and the pressures of the rigorous athletic programs they feel they need to improve with the use of outside help.  When people the men or women in magazines or on TV that have what they see as perfect bodies it makes them feel inferior and gives them the thoughts that lead to them wanting to change themselves by any means necessary.  Some people believe that drugs are the only thing to help them.  Many people are looking for a quick fix.  They don't want to put the time or effort into a workout plan to build muscles the natural way.  This is only harmful to their bodies in the long run  ("Steroids" 1).

     This aspect of needing quick help is also a problem with teenager, because their bodies aren't always done growing.  They don't understand that their bodies aren't as big as they want them to be because their bodies aren't done developing and haven't gained all their muscle and coordination.  If they just waited it would be easier for them to build muscle and have healthier bodies.  Teenager are usually impatient and will resort to anything that they think will help them.  Without education in these subjects they will be left to make uniformed choices and most likely do permanent damage to their bodies without knowing it until it is too late ("Steroids" 1).

In conclusion, the writer has made major points in the effects of steroids and why people shouldn't use them.  They can damage your body after only one use by shutting down hormones and hormone producing glands in the body.  I have also touched on how athletes are role models and how they are the ones that use steroids the most. 

Works Cited                                                                                                   

Bellino, Dr. Ben.  "Steroids:  A Closer Look."  Steroid Law.  <> 1-3.

Brink, Will.  "Brinkzone".  May 11, 2000 <> 1-3.

Denham, Bryan E.  "On Drugs in Sports in the Aftermath of Flo Jo's Death, Big

Mac's Attack."  Journal of Sport and Social Issues 23 (Aug. 1999) 362-367.

Jennings, Maria.  "Steroids."  May 23 1999.  Mayo Clinic Health Letter. < 1-2.

Kalawalski,  Kathiann M.  "Steer Clear of Steroid Abuse."  Current Health. (Mar. 1999) 13-15.

"Steroid Use in Young Athletes."  National Clearinghouse of Alcohol and Drug Information.  (May 11, 1998) 1.

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