So if an athlete wants to add some muscle, what can they do? Well, they can work out… or they can inject some anabolic steroids.
Steroids can bring quick benefits to anyone who wants to build up their physique. But in the longer term, those benefits can soon be outweighed by the risks.
I’m talking about health conditions ranging from merely irritating to life-threatening.
I’m talking about everything from acne through to high blood pressure, liver damage and cancers.
You can damage yourself in three very severe ways:
You can do harm to your body,
You can do harm to your mind,
and you can do to your whole way of life.
I’d like to talk about that today, and I’d like to begin by looking at the harm you can do to your body.
If you’re a man, and you take large doses of anabolic steroids, you can expect quite a few changes in your sexual characteristics.
Because although steroids are derived from a male sex hormone, the drug can actually trigger a mechanism in the body that shuts down the healthy functioning of the male reproductive system.
And that brings on some worrying changes:
- Shrinking of the testicles
- Reduced sperm count
- Difficulty or pain in urinating
- Development of breasts
- and an enlarged prostate
And things are no more appealing for women.
You can expect:
- Growth of facial hair
- Changes in, or cessation of, the menstrual cycle
- A deepened voice
- And breast reduction
And whether you’re a man or a woman, you will see changes in your health that will range all the way from merely irritating to life-threatening.
Take your pick….
- Swelling of feet or ankles
- Bad breath
- Reduction in HDL, the "good" cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Liver damage and cancers
- Aching joints
- Increased chance of injury to tendons, ligaments, and muscles - Weakening of the immune system -- the body's defense against germs and diseases.
They’re all possibilities if you take steroids for any length of time. And the sad thing is, that’s not the end of it. If you’re an adolescent, you can expect something else from using anabolic steroids for an extended period:
It may permanently stop your bones from growing. In other words, a teenage steroid user may not grow to be his or her full adult height and will be shorter for life.
All this, for the sake of muscles. But that’s only the physical side.
What about the harm it can do to your mind? Well, for starters, it can distort the way you see the world. Scientists are just beginning to investigate the impact of anabolic steroids on the mind and behavior. Many athletes report "feeling good" about themselves while on a steroids regimen.
The downside, according to a Harvard study, is wide mood swings ranging from periods of violent, even homicidal, episodes known as "roid rages" to bouts of depression when the drugs are stopped.
And it can also distort the way you deal with the world.
The Harvard study also said that anabolic steroids users may suffer from paranoid jealousy, extreme irritability, delusions, and impaired judgment stemming from feelings of invincibility.
So now we know it can harm your body and your mind, and we know that the studies are still going on. But if that isn’t enough to persuade, maybe this will. What about the harm they can do to your life? What about infection?
Think about it: people sometimes take injections of anabolic steroids to add to their oral dosages.
They use large-gauge, reusable needles, and they usually get them from the black market. We’re talking about needle sharing here, and you know where that’s going don’t you? If you share your needle , chances are you run the risk of transmitting or...