Consequences Of Steroids In Sports Essay Research

Consequences Of Steroids In Sports Essay, Research Paper

Every year high school, college, and professional athletes try to get just a little bigger, a little stronger, and to increase the amount of weights they lift by, just a few pounds. To achieve these goals athletes often turn to anabolic steroids to aid them in achieving their goals. Anabolic steroids are a quick, but dangerous way to increase muscle mass, and they can carry many risks including some life threatening side affects. Years after taking steroids athletes can live to have serious heart problems, sterility, or possibly not even live, all because of foolish decisions they made in the past. These potentially fatal drugs are not widely known by young athletes at all, because they don t know about the risks that can go along with them. In school, every student is taught about marijuana, cocaine,heroin, sex, liquor, and all those other health risks, but they re never taught about rhoids or juice. (slang words for steroids) That should be changed, because it is known that student athletes often use steroids, not knowing the risks. Many times they take the risk because they hear about professional athletes taking steroids. But, despite their widespread use in sports, steroids can have more negative than positive effects on athletes of all types.

Steroids are chemical substances that can be made naturally by the body or produced synthetically. There are many different types of steroids that are used for different things other than just athletes enhancing muscles. For example, there are types of steroids that can be used by women as birth control pills, and other types that are used for menopause treatment. (Dolan 1986) The abuse of steroids is almost always found to be in the case of athletes, and that is the focus of this paper.

All anabolic steroids are synthetic compounds whose molecular structure is similar to that of the natural male sex hormone testosterone. Testosterone affects development of the male body in two important ways: it has an anabolic effect – increases growth, especially of muscular and skeletal tissue – And an androgenic

effect – increased development of male sexual characteristics. Anabolic steroids are constructed stythetically in such a way that they maximize the anabolic effect of testosterone while minimizing the androgenic effect. (Internet site: A)

The way that steroids work can easily be interpreted by a football team. Lets pretend that hormones and steroids are the quarterback. They lead the team towards a goal, and hold them together. The quarterback will pass signals to the male hormone

receptors. They will assure efficient growth and adaptation throughout body systems. The male hormone receptors are not only found in skeletal muscle, but also in sex organ tissues. This causes muscle building affects to be linked with sex related affects. (Fahey


Two main functions of steroids in the body are physical growth and sexual maturation. Steroids have many metabolic effects, but their primary one is the formation and storage of muscle tissue protein. Because of steroids the body is able to retain certain

chemicals and then convert them into muscle. Steroids also affect sexual organs because the accessory sex gland is the first to build the tissue. And, lastly, steroids perform several biological functions in the body without we would die. Steroids stimulate the building of bone tissue and strengthen protein matrix in bones which support our body. Steroids also heal many wound both on the inside and outside of our body. (Dolan, 1986)

Anabolic steroids are very important to modern medicine. one example of their use is in testicular cancer. To remove this cancer men need to have their testicles removed, which makes them incapable of producing testosterone. Many of these patients are prescribed anabolic steroids to replace testosterone and maintain the function to their reproductive organs and secondary sexual characteristics. Adolescent males with a pituitary malfunction involving low androgen production are often treated with anabolic steroids while they normally would be experiencing puberty. This provides them with

growth and sexual maturation they otherwise would never have. Steroids also promote healing. after many kinds of surgery, patients can suffer from lost muscle tissue. Steroids along with exercise and a healthy diet can help rebuild this tissue and lead to a more

prompt recovery.

Many AIDS patients suffer from loss of tissue, making them very frail and weak.Many doctors have administered testosterone experimentally to help rebuild the lost tissue and weight. Since steroids can have very serious side affects the dosage of these

medications must be very precise. The doses for these treatments are tested thoroughly in laboratories, and most doses are similar to the amount that would be normally produced in the body, to keep side effects minimal. The athletes that abuse steroids can take up to ten

times the dosage administered to medical patients. That s when side effects are serious.

(Internet site: A)

Abuse of steroids can lead to many adverse side affects. One major system hurt by the abuse of the steroids is the circulatory system. Abuse of anabolic steroids causes an enlargement of the heart, which is also a symptom of chronic heart failure. This can lead to many bad consequences including sudden death because of failure of the hear. An enlarged heart needs more blood vessels to support it, and since the human body flow cannot accommodate this, areas of heart tissue receive very poor blood flow. This can cause the

death of new cells and a massive, and often fatal, heart attack. Blood vessels are also affected by steroids abuse. An increase in anabolic steroids can lead to the hardening of blood vessels because of an increase in collagen in the walls of the arteries. Furthermore,

for unknown reasons, the body doesn t respond well to alien testosterone, and that can lead to hyperaggregability, or otherwise known as blood clots. Blood clots can cause strokes, hear attacks, and even death. Any one of these affects of added testosterone on

the human body can be extremely dangerous, and are often fatal. (Wright 1990)

Steroids also have major and minor affects on the skin. Some of the milder affects of steroids are oily skin, acne, hives, rashes, and unexplained darkening. However, sometimes even acne can be dangerous on steroid users. It is likely for steroid users to

have acne infected with Staph, which produces toxic chemicals and can send someone to the hospital for weeks. (Wright, 1990)

Steroids can have very serious affects on the liver. The amount of damage done to the liver depends on the amount and length of time that steroids are abused. When the liver is under stress or is damaged, certain chemical markers of cell death, such as SGOT

and SGPT, can be found in the blood stream. Liver damage is often tested for by finding the amount of these chemicals in their blood stream, which shows that they have major

liver damage. Oral steroids, a different type of steroid, are very hard for the liver to metabolize. Liver cells can be damaged while trying to digest these hormones. These steroids also change the structure of the liver, so that the ability to rid the body of wastes

is decreased. In several cases, blood filled pockets open in the liver as a result of steroid use. This can lead to death. (Wright, 1990)

Anabolic steroids can also promote tumor growth. In 1995, one out of every three people who died from liver tumors had a history of anabolic steroid use. Though the risk is cumulative, this still indicates some risk in a user population. Finally, a chemical process in the liver can turn anabolic steroids into female hormones, or estrogens. The liver usually deactivates these estrogens in males, but alcohol can slow down that process. Thus, if steroids and alcohol are taken within the same time period, estrogens develop in males,

causing breast development. This condition is called gynecomastia, and is believed to be a sign of liver damage. (Internet site: B)

Steroids can change sexual characteristics in both men and women. In men steroids cause sterility, testicular atrophy, and female characteristics. It s very rare that steroids lead to prostate cancer, but there have been some reports of it. The severity of these

affects depends on the length of time the drug has been abused and the amount of the drug taken. The effects on the male sexual organs can be broken down into two categories. The effects due to impaired pituitary genital feedback, and the affects due to an increase in the

body s estrogen levels. The pituitary gland s part of the brain that monitors the amount of testosterone in the male bloodstream. If the level is too low or too high, the pituitary gland releases chemicals that can govern the flow of this hormone. This is how to body controls the amount of testosterone used in producing sperm and maintaining sexual characteristics. When steroids are abused, the pituitary gland receptors sense high levels of circulating testosterone and send chemical signals to shut down testosterone production in the testes. The longer steroids are abused, the longer this feedback signal goes out, this keeping the testes inactive. This causes sperm cells produced by the testicles to have abnormal shapes, and rapidly decrease in number. If steroid abuse persists, the testes stop producing sperm, making the user infertile. Also, the testes will start to decrease in size. After steroid use is stopped all the affects generally can be reversed, but depending on how long steroids were taken, the process can take over a year long. In two extreme cases steroid users have suffered from permanent sterility due to a permanent affect on the pituitary gland, However, these cases are very rare because the user would have to take steroids daily for over two years to behind having permanent affects.

The other type of side affects are related to estrogen, the female sex hormone. Estrogen and testosterone are chemically related. When large amounts of testosterone are entered into the body some of it is changed into estrogens, female hormones. Male steroids users may complain of enlarged breast tissue, and major breast development,

which is known as gynecomastia. Breast growth accumulates over the amount of time steroids are used, and is irreversible. The use of alcohol with steroids further increases the likelihood of breast growth. Ordinarily, the liver would metabolize the estrogens before

they had any major affect on the body, but alcohol slows and prevents the liver from doing this. This fact is especially important, because bodybuilders are more likely to drink alcohol than other people their age. (Internet site: A)

Steroids also have affects on women who use them. Since testosterone is a male hormone, females tend to develop male characteristics when using the drug. High doses of anabolic steroids, even if only used once, can lead to a reduction in breast size, facial and chest hair, and irregularities in the menstrual cycle. Continued use can lead to deepening of the voice and enlargement of the clitoris, both of which are permanent side affects. Some

users experience an increase in sex drive and male patter baldness during the period of time they are using steroids. Most female athletes don t mind these side effects during the time that they re using steroids, because metal attitude changes caused by steroids. It s only after the steroids usage is stopped that the body changes become intolerable. (Internet site B)

Some of the worst side effects caused by steroids are not physical, rather, they re behavioral and physiological. Behavioral effects are much harder to test for because they re very random and depend on the person who is taking steroids. Because of this,

most of what we know about psychological affects of steroids come from isolated cases instead of major scientific tests. One thing that most steroids abusers have in common are feelings of well being and confidence. However, some doctors say that the self confidence

experienced through steroid use is actually a lack of restraint on ones actions. Most steroid users become irritable and aggressive during the times they are using the drug. The severity of these side effects can range from yelling at neighbors to shooting annoying

girlfriends, as Ricky Wayne Boblett put it. (a body builder who was hooked on roids ) Though many users feel good about themselves, suicidal thoughts are not uncommon among steroid users. In one case a teenage youth was lead to suicide, simply from taking steroids prescribed to him for an injured knee. (Wright, 1990)

Most steroid using athletes have very similar patterns of use. Athletes often take large amounts of steroids at one time, that s called stacking the pyramid. Athletes stack the pyramid in four to eighteen week intervals, and ten stop using steroids for up to a year. This is known as cycling. Athletes think that stacking and cycling will lead to more muscle growth, but this has never been proven. Many athletes get their steroids over the black market, so no one is sure about the purity of the drugs. Others use veterinary

steroids, which were designed for animals. Both these ways of obtaining drugs are dangerous, because no tests have been done to determine side effects of these steroids. Yet another way of obtaining steroids is by getting them from illegal laboratories. These

drugs may or may not work, and often you can find insterile needles being used from these labs. Athletes think that certain drugs can prevent side effects of steroids, but what they don t realize is that these drugs carry side effects of their own. (Yesalis, 1993)

Steroid abuse has a rich history in sports. They were first used for medical purposes in Europe during the 1930 s. They were known as miracle drugs which could make you strong and fit. Some were used to aid in the healing of concentration camp survivors from W.W.II. Use in sports began in Communist Russia in the mid 1940 s. They were secretly given to athletes to give Russians a clear advantage. They were successful, and for many years Russians dominated the sport of weight lifting. Some say that Russian

doctors knew the side effects along with taking the drugs, but the government wanted the athletes to succeed, so they wouldn t allow the doctors to tell the athletes. The first American steroid user was a horse named Holloway. The horse experienced heightened stamina and strength, and won his next two races. But, in the later 1940 s doctors were recommending steroids to athletes, calling the wonder drugs. A German doctor named de Kruif called steroids borrowed manhood, and said that they could replace sexual organs, which was later proven to be false. Body builders were the human American

athletes to use the drugs, followed by weight lifters. CBI pharmaceuticals were the first drug company to put a steroid, Dianabol, on the market. By the 1964 Olympics, steroids were openly used, and approximately 60% of the athletes were using them. In 1969 John Hendershott, the editor of Track and Field called steroids the breakfast of champions, and in the same issue Bill Toomey, decathlon gold medalist, said he attributed his medal to steroids. By 1990 steroid use had spread to all sports, ranging from bobsledding to

handball. (Goldman 1992)

The first documented use of steroids by a female athlete was in 1964 by members of the Soviet track and field team. Some say it started many years before this, but that steroids were used in secret so nobody knew about it. In the 1968 Olympics, females began developing masculine bodies. It was assumed that these women were either hermaphrodites, or men disguised as women, so they were forced to take chromosome tests. Many of them failed this test because of the steroids in their bodies. Steroids use in females spread like it did in males, starting with power sports and then branching off to

others. Steroids are now use by female athletes at the collegiate level. (Goldman 1992)

Steroid use is also very high in the NFL. The drug is thought to have been introduced in the league in 1963 by Alvin Roy, a weight lifter / football coach. He allegedly gave his team little pink pills (Dianabol) with their dinner, and they were fined if they didn t eat them. Roy left his team, the Kansas City Chiefs, who quickly amassed the largest offensive and defensive lines in the league. Through trades and by word of mouth, the use of steroids spread throughout the whole NFL. The famous Steel Curtain (Pittsburgh Stealers defensive line in the mid-late 1970 s) has been accused of steroid use

Former players have even openly admitted to the use of steroids, and said that almost 80% of the league was using them. Because of much stricter penalties, the use of steroids has decreased immensely since then. The percentages for today s users are unknown. (Goldman, 1992)

Steroids are sometimes needed to maintain physiologic health in the body. When naturally found in the body they do this by promoting growth, causing sexual maturation, healing torn muscle tissues, and building bones. However, abuse of steroids is common

and when abused their normal effects are taken to an extreme level. For example, in the body steroids promote sexual maturation, but when abused, they cause unwanted sexual effects like excess body hair and possibly sterility. Think of the body as an outlet, and the steroids are plugs. It is the steroids job to make sure that everything gets energy and runs smoothly. When working with the right amount of plugs, the steroids are usually successful. However, when extra plugs are forced to go into the same socket, the power can go out. The effect that the plugs were originally supposed to achieve are now

backwards. Similarly, when steroids appear naturally in the body, they do their job well, but when foreign steroids are introduced into the body, destructive ends usually follow. We see from this example of steroid abuse that if normal function progresses to an

extreme shape, healthy functioning becomes a disease.



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