The debate surrounding performance-enhancing drugs has made its way into headlines again with the recent suspension of Milwaukee Brewers MVP Ryan Braun.
Unfortunately, Braun isn't the first athlete to test positive for these drugs, and he probably won't be the last.
This week, Dr. Tedd L. Mitchell discusses the risks of using performance enhancers. This is the President's Prescription.
Synthesized testosterone first made an appearance in competitive sports in the 1940s. A study done in 2008 found that an estimated 1 to 3 million people in the U.S. has used anabolic steroids. Performance-enhancing drugs have since expanded to also include androstenedione, human growth hormone, erythropoietin, diuretics, creatine and stimulants.
Dr. Mitchell warned that the use of any of these drugs, no matter the reason, can have serious consequences.
"Performance-enhancing drugs, or steroids, may increase a person's endurance and enhance their athletic performance, but they can also cause serious physical and psychological side effects," Mitchell said.
Whether they are in injected, taken orally or topically, steroids have been linked to kidney and liver damage, high blood pressure, heart problems, a weakened immune system, depression, sexual dysfunction and cancer.
Teens who use steroids put themselves at risk for irreversible side effects, including stunted growth, accelerated puberty, abnormal sexual development and infertility.
Bulking up without using performance-enhancing drugs is challenging, but Dr. Mitchell said the risks of these drugs far outweigh the benefits.
"If you're looking to become stronger and leaner," he said, "talk to a trainer about how you can adjust your diet and workout routine to reach your fitness goals naturally."
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