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Steroids: Pumped Up

Pumped Up

What are anabolic steroids?
What are the risks of taking steroids?
What are some other dietary supplements?

Building strong muscles doesn't happen overnight. It takes time to see the results of exercise, to acquire healthy habits, and to achieve your fitness goals. There is no instant beverage or pill that will make you fit. But some people risk their health to take a short cut. They try chemical cheating with supplements like steroids. back to top

What are anabolic steroids?
Anabolic steroids are a synthetic version of the male sex hormone testosterone. At great cost to your body, they can promote muscle growth and lean body mass. You've probably heard that some athletes and other people take steroids to change their appearance or performance. When combined with strength training, steroids can help build muscle and increase endurance faster than exercise alone can. But not without causing extensive long-term damage to your body.

Anabolic steroids have many medical uses and are safe when used correctly. But the nonmedical use of anabolic drugs—like for bodybuilding—is dangerous and illegal. back to top

What are the risks of taking steroids?
Both men and women produce testosterone naturally (even though girls have a lot less than guys do). But what's really weird is what happens when people take large doses of anabolic steroids. Guys lose their male characteristics and can get shrunken testicles and develop breasts. Some guys go bald. Women who pump steroids get male characteristics like facial and body hair. Steroids can also cause irregular periods and breast atrophy (shrinking). Your voice can deepen too. (Attractive, huh?)

In men and women, steroids can cause acne and extreme mood swings, paranoia, and depression. Some of the effects of short-term steroid abuse will go away once you stop taking them. But the longer you use the drug, the more likely you are to experience liver failure, heart attack, cancer, or death. back to top

What are some other dietary supplements?
Anabolic steroids aren't the only supplement that some athletes use when looking for a shortcut to fitness. Here are some others:
  • Creatine (pronounced kree-uh-tin)
    Creatine is a naturally occurring substance in your body. Manufacturers and users claim that creatine supplements promote weight loss and increase athletic performance. There is no scientific evidence to prove these claims. And the jury is still out about whether creatine is safe to use. But there is evidence that creatine use can increase your risk of getting dehydrated. Unless you aspire to be a lab rat, skip the creatine.
  • Androstenedione (pronounced andro-steen-die-own)
    Manufacturers and users of androstenedione, or andro, claim that it is safer than using anabolic steroids to build muscle mass because it is made by the body naturally and it isn't a synthetic hormone. Promoters say that andro enhances muscle growth like steroids do. What they usually don't tell you is that andro has many of the same side effects. Taking andro can make you grow facial and body hair and get acne. Men can experience breast enlargement. And women who take andro increase their risk for getting breast cancer. Andro can also deepen your voice permanently. People who take andro are at risk for liver failure and blood clots. That means you could have a stroke or heart attack. And, IT DOESN'T WORK!
  • Gamma hydroxybutyric acid (GHB)
    This body-building drug is used like steroids to build muscle. And some people take it as a recreational drug. Side effects include vomiting, dizziness, tremors, seizures, and coma. (Sounds like fun, right?) GHB cannot be legally marketed in the United States, and there is no evidence that it is safe. So if you ever run across GHB, run in the other direction! back to top
Last Modified Date: 4/27/2001
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