Anabolic Steroids in Exercising, Athletics, and the Effects on the Human BodyThrough all of history, athletes have searched for certain “foods” and “potions” to turntheir old bodies into more powerful ones. By doing this, many athletes turned toanabolic steroids. When did these drugs come about, or what is the history behindsteroids? The noted history of anabolic steroids being abused drugs began in 1954among Olympic weight lifters. During 1956, American athletes first marketed Dianabol(Methandrostenolone) in the U.S., which provided a way for use. In the beginning onlythe “world-class” athletes that participated in some of the sports that required morestrength used them. Athletes and their trainers began to develop high doses withdifferent types of drugs. These athletes and trainers went against scientist’s opinionsabout the high dosages. Even though some scientists stated that there was no realevidence that steroids even caused muscle growth or caused the athlete to have improvedability. They even warned that the large amounts would lead to serious side effects. Assteroids reputation grew they spread to other sports. The only Olympic sports in whichsteroids have not been detected are figure skating and women’s field hockey.Throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s anabolic steroids spread beyond the Olympics. In1983, nineteen athletes were disqualified from the Olympics for steroid abuse. A surveyin 1970, showed that five American universities had at least 15% of college athleticabusers. By the year 1984 20% of college athletes were using steroids (Koziris. 2000).Anabolic steroids or anabolic-androgenic steroids are the synthetic derivatives of thenaturally occurring male anabolic hormone testosterone. Both anabolic and androgenichave origins from the Greek: anabolic, meaning, "to build," and androgenic, meaning"masculinizing." Testosterone's natural androgenic effects trigger the maturing of themale reproductive system in puberty, including the growth of body hair and thedeepening of the voice. The hormone's anabolic effect helps the body retain dietaryprotein, which aids in the development of muscles. There are many types of steroidswith varying degrees of anabolic and androgenic properties; it is the anabolic property ofsteroids that attracts athletes, primarily to increase muscle mass and strength (Gallaway73).There should not be a controversy over anabolic steroid use in athletics, non-medical useof anabolic steroids is illegal and banned by most, if not all, and major sportsorganizations. Still, some athletes persist in taking them, believing that these substancesprovide a competitive advantage and by the desire to hopefully look, perform, and feelbetter, regardless of the dangers. When taking anabolic steroids, it makes the athletemore aggressive, competitive, and fatigue resistant, which enables them to train harderfor a longer period of time when the drug is being taken (Katch, Katch, and McArdle458). Athletes usually take anabolic steroids during the active part of their careers, in apractice called “stacking”, which they take a combined dose of the drug through both oraland injection form. Anabolic steroids frequently are taken in conjunction with aresistance training program and an augmented protein intake (Embleton and Kennedy267). The result once again, is improvement in sports that require strength, speed, andpower.With all of this talk about better performance and everything. Does taking anabolicsteroids really work? In the past, doctors believed that steroids did not really helpathletes to gain muscle tissue. The athletes taking steroids only thought this wouldhappen, so they worked harder. It was the focused attitude of the athlete and the physicalstimulation of training that produced bodybuilding effects. Athletes, coaches, trainers,and physicians report that there is a significant increase in lean muscle mass, strength,
and endurance. Anabolic steroids do not improve agility, skill, or cardiovascularcapacity (Taylor 38).It is not only the football player or weight lifter or sprinter who may be usinganabolic steroids, nor is it only men. White- and blue-collar workers, females and, mostalarmingly, adolescents take steroids. For example, it could be an 18-year-old who wantsto pick up a few pounds because of the constant teasing that goes along with beingskinny. Also a 15-year-old who just wants to reach maturity a little bit faster or maybe apoliceman who wants more power on the job. Despite what some people believe, malesare not the only ones who use anabolic steroids. Professional female track stars,swimmers, and body builders are just a few examples of athletes that use steroids. In theUnited States, more than 300,000 men and women used anabolic steroids over the 1-yearperiod from 1992-1993 (Katch, Katch, and McArdle 458). More and more adolescentsare turning to steroids for cosmetic reasons. Younger users come from all differentbackgrounds; they range from wealthy, poor, and live in rural areas and cities.Approximately 1 of 15 high school students, or about a half-million adolescents (250,000high school students), has used steroids (Katch, Katch, and McArdle 458). These areshocking numbers, all because teenagers want to improve their athletic performance ormake their appearance look better.Steroid-using athletes grow stronger, but serious side effects included unhealthycholesterol profiles, heart attack, stroke, liver tumors, and prostate problems (Eichner.1997). There are many negative side effects for athletes of all ages and sexes who useanabolic steroids. There are several warning signs of steroid use. The first is a drasticincrease in lean body weight (muscle); the second is a change in behavior, such ascompulsive weightlifting or extreme aggressiveness; the third is the sometimesprolongedrecovery from relatively minor injuries like an ankle sprain (Sabock 263).Some general side effects of using anabolic steroids include severe acne, edema, glucoseintolerance and insulin resistance, hair loss, hepatotoxicity, and increased risk ofcardiovascular disease (Koziris. 2000).Although anabolic steroids are derived from a male sex hormone, men who take themmay actually experience a "feminization" effect along with a decrease in normal malesexual function. When males use steroids, the excess steroids are metabolized intofemale sex hormones. Large doses of anabolic steroids tend to make men irritable andmoody at best, and at worst, raging, murderous, and suicidal (Eichner. 1997). There are alot of negative effects from men taking anabolic steroids, for instance, the body stopsproducing testosterone, and also stops producing sperm, which reduces the sperm count.Using anabolic steroids for long periods of time can lead to infertility and reducedtesticular size and can also lead to painful urination. Other negative effects includedevelopment of female nipples and breasts, a higher risk of prostate diseases, and liverdamage (Sabock 263).On the other hand, women often experience a "masculinization" effect from anabolicsteroids. Female athletes, more than male athletes, are likely to gain a competitive edgeby using male hormones, which give females more muscle, less fat, narrower hips, andhigher hematocrits (Eichner. 1997). Just like men, women also experience increasedaggression while taking anabolic steroids. The negative effects that come from takinganabolic steroids in woman are facial hair starts to grow and their voices get deeper.Other effects of steroid use in woman include permanent enlargement of the clitoris,menstrual difficulties, permanently decreased in breast size, and male appearance, whichmight also affect reproduction capability (Sabock 263).
Adolescents that use anabolic steroids are affected differently that men and woman thatuse the drug. Anabolic steroids can effect bone growth during puberty. This happensbecause the long bones of the legs and arms are still growing in early adolescence. Thereis also an increase in acne. Acne decreases when steroid use is stopped but may leavescarring. Male pattern baldness also occurs in both male and females. Some believe thatthe hair returns after steroid use and others believe it is irreversible (Yesalis 56).After a person begins to use anabolic steroids the first few times, they have to increasethe dosage to get the same effect before. After doing this for some time the personbecomes dependent on it. Since they have used the drug for a while their bodies need itin order to function properly. In order to stop using the drug their body goes through astage called “withdrawal,” this is when the person gets sick because of not using the drug(Koziris. 2000). Anabolic steroids are very hard to give up because when the personstops using them their whole self-image starts to fade away. If they start up again thepain goes away and they have difficulties stopping use even though they know it's badfor them.Many athletes want to enhance their performance not only by exercising but usinganabolic steroids. Steroids are not only illegal; they are also dangerous to a person’shealth. Steroid use might get you an edge on the next guy, but is it really worth it?There are so many negative side effects of anabolic steroid use in people of all ages, inwhich some are irreversible. Anabolic steroids are very addictive and once addicted it isvery hard to stop the use of the drug. The human body is to precious to let somethinglike steroids destroy it, just for an extra edge. Instead of using anabolic steroids put insome extra time at the gym and stay away from using steroids, they can destroy your life.ReferencesEichner, Randy E. “Ergogenic Aids: What Athletes Are Using – and Why.” The Physician andSportsmedicine Journal. Apr. 97.Embleton, Phil and Kennedy, Robert. “Anabolic Edge: Secrets for That Extra Lean Body Mass.”Musclemag International, May 2000.Gallaway, Steve. The Steroid Bible. Belle International, June 97.Katch, Frank I., Victor L. Katch, and William D. McArdle. Exercise Physiology: Energy, Nutrition, andHuman Performance. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams &Wilkins, 1996.Koziris, Lymperis. “Anabolic-Androgenic Steroid Abuse.” The Physician and Sportsmedicine Journal.Dec. 2000.Sabock, Ralph J. Coaching: A Realistic Perspective. San Diego: CollegiatePress, 2000.Taylor, William N. Anabolic Steroids and the Athlete 2d. Ed. MacFarland& Company, Inc Publishers, January 2002.Yesalis, Charles E. Anabolic Steroids in Sport and Exercise. Human KineticsPublisher, January 2000.