Research by: Dean Ochi, A.T.C., C.S.C.S.
Athletes who are tempted to try and take their performance up a notch by taking certain performance-enhancing drugs be forewarned: you're not only destroying your health, you're breaking the law as well.
Major League Baseball's aggressive new drug policy announced this year was largely the result of the intense negative publicity surrounding the use of dangerous steroids and steroid precursors, such as those commonly known as "Andro" substances which today carry with them a set of very dangerous physical and legal risks.
In October 2004, the federal government added Andro and other related substances to its list of banned controlled substances, meaning it's against the law to buy, sell or use Andro without a prescription. Since simply owning a bottle is enough to put you behind bars, if you're one of the people who foolishly stocked up on the supplement during the law's 90-day grace period, get rid of it now.
However, despite the potential legal dangers, the many incredible physical risks of Andro may be even more devastating than the potential blemish to your criminal record.
What is Andro and why is it so bad?
Andro is considered a steroid by most in the drug policy and regulatory fields.
The term "Andro" is short for the two most common chemical forms of the substance, Androstenedione and Androstenediol. Andro is classified as a "prohormone." Scientifically, this is defined as any substance that promotes the production of testosterone through the addition of testosterone molecules when it is processed by the liver.
Simply put, what goes into your body as Andro turns into testosterone once inside. This conversion dangerously and unnaturally boosts the testosterone levels in your body, and produces a shocking list of negative side effects (see box below).
Andro oversteps the body's endocrine system and boosts hormone levels, in this case testosterone, above the levels that the body is meant to produce. If there's one thing you should never do, as an athlete, it is disrupt your body's ability to control its hormone levels.
An artificially high testosterone level throws your body "out of whack." Believe it or not, guys who use Andro can grow breasts, and begin to look like girls. Girls who use the substance can grow facial hair, and start to look like guys.
The harm that Andro can cause does not stop with a few side effects. Using Andro as a teen actually has the potential to stunt your growth. The increased testosterone levels can cause your body to fuse its growth plates prematurely, essentially ending your ability to grow taller.
Not only is Andro extremely dangerous, but the muscle building effects of the supplement are questionable at best. The research, up to this point, has produced contradictory results. In other words, no one can say for sure what Andro can do to positively affect you as an athlete. But, there is no debate in terms of the many negative side effects that result from Andro use.
A Final Word to the Wise. . .
Andro is not only illegal but has also been banned by almost all major athletic governing bodies including the NFL, MLB, the NBA, the NCAA and the International Olympic Committee. In short, Andro is an extremely dangerous supplement that has absolutely no place in sport.
If you are currently using, or considering the use of Andro, stop now! Andro has the potential to cause cancer, stunt your growth, throw off your hormone levels and cause permanent damage to your body. It is not a safe substance. It is not an effective performance enhancement supplement. Andro is a drug that you should never take!
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