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Can the glamour of winning be so enticing that some athletes would risk their reputation and health to win? It is all over the news, high-profile athletes using anabolic steroids and high schoolers are following their example. Anabolic steroids are synthetic substances similar to the male sex hormone, testosterone. They promote the growth of muscle, boost the immune system and even protect against osteoporosis. In the US, steroids can only legally be used to treat certain medical conditions. Steroids cause serious side effects especially in children and teens. Not only are they very sensitive to these potent drugs, some of the health effects can be irreversible. Girls can develop male sexual characteristics like increased facial and body hair, deepening of the voice and disruption of the menstrual cycle. Long-term effects can include increased risk for breast cancer, uterine cancer as well as infertility. Boys on the other hand, can experience breast enlargement and shrinking of the testicles. Both boys and girls can experience premature puberty; increase in acne severity and their growth may be stunted. All anabolic steroid users are at higher risk for heart attacks, strokes and liver problems. Steroids can also cause dramatic mood changes commonly known as roid rage. So why do young people use anabolic steroids, well there is a myth that sports are a path to fame and fortune. The reality is only about one in 1000 high school athletes will ever go on to the big leagues. Considering how remote chances are, is it worth risking your long-term health?

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The NIDA for Teens Web site is brought to you by the scientists at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). There is extensive and accessible information about anabolic steroids, their use and the consequences. This is an excellent source of information about steroids, their uses and abuses written in an accessible style.

A very informative publication from the US Department of Health and Human Resources and The National Institutes on health on the use of steroids and the consequences to your health.

Anabolic steroids: a review of the literature
HA Haupt and GD Rovere
American Journal of Sports Medicine, Vol 12, Issue 6. pages 469-484 1984

This is a journal review of the steroid use by athletes. The abstract is: "The use of anabolic steroids by athletes is controversial. On the one hand, many athletes believe that steroids improve athletic performance and thus provide an advantage to those who use them. On the other hand, the medical and scientific communities believe that inadequate scientific data exist to support the claim that anabolic steroids can improve athletic performance while overwhelming scientific data demonstrate their deleterious effects. Therefore, a large information and credibility gap concerning anabolic steroids exists between the athletes and the medical and scientific communities. We believe that this gap can be closed if both groups are better informed about anabolic steroids. We provide a detailed review of the literature on anabolic steroids that provides to the reader the information needed to make an informed decision on the relative risks and benefits of anabolic steroids to the athlete."

National Institute on Drug abuse website has extensive information and links about steroid abuse and the associated health risks.
The Mayo Clinic has two links that provide excellent information:

Teen athletes and performance-enhancing substances: What parents can do website from the Mayo Clinic. Is your teenager involved in athletics? If so, you need to know about the dangers of performance-enhancing drugs and supplements. Find out why.

Performance-enhancing drugs: Dangerous, damaging and potentially deadly A desire to gain the competitive edge leads some athletes to try muscle-building supplements or other performance-enhancing drugs. Learn how these drugs work and how they can affect your health.

Adverse effects of anabolic steroids in athletes, A constant threat.
Maravelias C, Dona A, Stefanidou M, Spiliopoulou C.
Toxicology Letters Vol 158, Issue 3 pages 167-75. 2005

This is a journal article. The abstract is: "Anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS) are used as ergogenic aids by athletes and non-athletes to enhance performance by augmenting muscular development and strength. AAS administration is often associated with various adverse effects that are generally dose related. High and multi-doses of AAS used for athletic enhancement can lead to serious and irreversible organ damage. Among the most common adverse effects of AAS are some degree of reduced fertility and gynecomastia in males and masculinization in women and children. Other adverse effects include hypertension and atherosclerosis, blood clotting, jaundice, hepatic neoplasms and carcinoma, tendon damage, psychiatric and behavioral disorders. More specifically, this article reviews the reproductive, hepatic, cardiovascular, hematological, cerebrovascular, musculoskeletal, endocrine, renal, immunologic and psychologic effects. Drug-prevention counseling to athletes is highlighted and the use of anabolic steroids is must be avoided, emphasizing that sports goals may be met within the framework of honest competition, free of doping substances."


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