The dangers of steroids

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By Chad Zimmerman

In November 2005, Major League Baseball finally decided to take steroid abuse seriously. The players and owners created a policy where the punishment fits the crime. A player receives a 50-game suspension the first time he tests positive, 100 games for the second. And in the true spirit of baseball, a third strike means you're out—literally—by way of a lifetime ban.

Since no such policy exists for high school athletes, what's keeping you from injecting to inflate your guns and numbers? Jackie Berning, nutritionist to various professional teams, including the Denver Broncos and Cleveland Indians, provides endless reasons why you should never even think about pumping juice into your body.

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By Chad Zimmerman

In November 2005, Major League Baseball finally decided to take steroid abuse seriously. The players and owners created a policy where the punishment fits the crime. A player receives a 50-game suspension the first time he tests positive, 100 games for the second. And in the true spirit of baseball, a third strike means you're out—literally—by way of a lifetime ban.

Since no such policy exists for high school athletes, what's keeping you from injecting to inflate your guns and numbers? Jackie Berning, nutritionist to various professional teams, including the Denver Broncos and Cleveland Indians, provides endless reasons why you should never even think about pumping juice into your body.

About Anabolics

Anabolic steroids are the kind athletes use illegally. Doctors can prescribe them for certain genetic irregularities. However, their prescriptions are only 1/10 of the dosage athletes use in an effort to make strength and size gains. Using them without a doctor's guidance causes awful side effects that wreak havoc on your body. Some show up within weeks, others not for years. Some effects stay with you the rest of your life. Here's a list of the ugly, gross, is-it-really-worth-it consequences of shooting up.

Guys and Girls  
In the Long Run Immediate
Liver, brain and kidney tumors Baldness
High blood pressure 'roid rage
Decrease in good cholesterol (HDL) Severe acne
Increase in bad cholesterol (LDL)  
Early skeletal maturation: you risk staying short the rest of your life  
Guys  
In the Long Run Immediate
Risk of prostate cancer Shrinking of testicles
  Breast development
  Reduced sperm count
Girls  
Immediate Deeper voice irreversible
  Enlargement of clitoris irreversible
  Hair loss irreversible
  Decreased breast size irreversible
  Changes/cessation of period

Berning's Quick Facts About Steroid Use
1. As fast as you see muscle and strength gains, you'll also see short term side effects, such as balding and acne.
2. You go through puberty before your body is ready, causing you to be shorter than your natural potential.
3. The longer you're on steroids, the greater the risks and complications.
4. Price has nothing to do with quality—a steroid is a steroid.

The aftermath

Beyond the visible side effects, other, less-tangible repercussions emerge when a user quits. "Depression often sets in after users stop. They don't feel good about themselves and can suffer from grand delusions, jealousy and impaired judgment," Berning says. Various cases document depression so severe it led former users to commit suicide.

Quitters often feel lowest immediately after quitting, which quickly leads them back to the drug, creating an addiction. Dependency is typically more common among teens who are embarrassed about using, but don't know who to turn to for help.

Coming clean Berning advises seeking a professional's help to get through the difficult process of kicking the habit. "You need to ask for help, and plenty of people are available. You can talk to your guidance counselor, coach, athletic trainer or personal physician." A medical professional is the best choice, because he or she can prescribe medication for the depression.


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: STEROIDS | CHOLESTEROL | DEPRESSION | SIDE EFFECTS