New York Orthopaedic Surgeon Warns About the Dangers of Steroids
As a result of the intense competition to enter professional sports, more and more high school and college athletes are using steroids to get a competitive edge in their sport. It is estimated that 4 – 12% of high school males have used steroids and that 15 – 20% of college athletes use steroids.
Steroids prevent natural muscle breakdown and causes increased muscular growth. Anabolic steroids mimic testosterone in the body and may improve endurance, strength and muscle mass, says Kevin Plancher M.D., Head of Plancher Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine in Manhattan. Unfortunately, most users do not realize the potential harmful side effects of steroids.
Anabolic steroids are drugs that resemble the chemical structure of the body’s natural sex hormone testosterone, which is made naturally by the body. Testosterone directs the body to produce or enhance male characteristics such as increased muscle mass, facial hair growth, and deepening of the voice, and is an important part of male development during puberty .
When anabolic steroids increase the levels of testosterone in the blood, they stimulate muscle tissue in the body to grow larger and stronger, Dr. Plancher stated. However, the effects of too much testosterone circulating in the body can be harmful over time.
Adverse Effects Of Steroids: Premature balding, mood swings, nausea and vomiting, trembling increased risk of tendon ruptures, shortening of final adult height, acne and oily hair.
Males Are Specifically At Risk For: Testicular shrinkage, breast development and nipple enlargement medically known as gynecomastia, impotence, sand sterility.
Females Are At Risk For: Facial hair, breast shrinkage, menstrual cycle changes, enlarged clitoris, male-pattern baldness, deepening of the voice and problems with fertility.
Mental Effects Of Steroids: “Roid rage, which is severe, aggressive behavior that may result in violence, such as fighting or destroying property, irritable moods, severe mood swings, hallucinations, paranoia, anxiety and panic attacks as well as depression and thoughts of suicide.
These are potentially serious side effects which may not be reversible, adds Dr. Plancher.
The long term effects of steroids are not entirely known. Steroids can be addictive and people may have a hard time stopping their use. Young people who use steroids are more likely to use other addictive drugs and alcohol.
Finally, Dr. Plancher emphasizes, “using steroids at any age is not smart”. Young athletes should understand that trying steroids is a bad way to improve performance. The best way to improve performance is through regular conditioning, intense practice and a healthy diet.