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It's Not Worth It!



Every once in a while, we hear of an athlete being stripped of their title or award because it has been found out that they used performance enhancing drugs. It used to be more prevalent, but now the sporting world has become more strict with guidelines and tests regarding this issue. While this serves to discourage athletes from using performance enhancing drugs, it has also pushed manufacturers to become more stealthy in the way they engineer the drugs. While the number of users have probably declined over the years, the black market still exists and some individuals still exploit the effects of performance enhancing drugs on the body.
So what exactly are the most common performance enhancing drugs out there and what are their possible dangerous effects on the body?

Anabolic steroids

This type of performance enhancing drug is the synthetic modification of testosterone.  Testosterone produces an anabolic effect which means the body gets buffer because of its promotion of muscle building. The taking of anabolic steroids is medically allowed, but not for enhancing performance in sports. Athletes get drawn to using this in its pill, injection or topical form because bigger muscles lets them recover more quickly from hard training and allows them to train harder and more often.

There are also anabolic steroids that are called designer drugs, a dangerous type of steroids that can go undetected by the usual performance enhancing drug tests. They have no known medical use and as such have not been tested for safety by the FDA, and this makes it a very dangerous drug to take.

Some of the side effects for men who are taking anabolic steroids include the development of prominent breasts, infertility, shrunken testicles, prostate problems and baldness. Women on the other hand may experience the development of masculine features such as a deeper voice, increased body hair, baldness and an enlargement of the clitoris. Aside from this, both sexes might experience severe acne problems, increased risk of tendon rupture, abnormalities on the liver, tumors, increased bad cholesterol levels, decreased good cholesterol levels, hypertension, heart problems, circulatory problems, and addiction and psychiatric disorders.

Androstenedione

Known for its shorthand term “andro”, this type of drug is medically allowed but is strictly controlled. Andro is hormone that is produced by the adrenal glands, testes and ovaries. This hormone is converted to estradiol and testosterone, and experts agree that there are no significant muscle building benefit to this drug since most of the andro is converted to estrogen, a female hormone. Still many fitness manufacturers tout the body building effects of andro.

Side effects from taking this medication include severe acne, lowered sperm count, shrinking of the testicles in men;  deepening of the voice and baldness in women. Both sexes are also put at a higher risk of heart attack and stroke because it lowers the body’s good cholesterol levels.

Human Growth Hormone

This type of drug is available by prescription but has not been shown to yield any benefits in building up body strength or endurance. Taking HGH has many risks including muscle weakness, joint pain, fluid retention, carpal tunnel syndrome, anomalies in the body’s ability to regulate glucose, cardiomyopathy and hyperlipidemia.

Eryhtropoietin

This type of drug was popular among cyclists during the 90s and has been shown to account for at least 18 known deaths. Eryhtropoietin is a hormone that is administered to people who have severe kidney disease, to treat anemia. The drug increases the production of hemoglobin and red blood cells which result in better oxygen distribution in the muscles. This however can be dangerous when improperly administered, and can cause stroke, pulmonary edema and heart attack.

Diuretics

You’re probably familiar with the term diuretics, or drugs that encourage urination and purging of liquids in the body. This type of drug is used by athletes in order to bring themselves down in weight divisions, which many consider easier. These drugs can also mask other performance enhancing drugs in the system, making them undetectable in tests because diuretics dilute urine, acting as a masking agent.

Side effects and complications even in controlled doses can include dehydration, exhaustion, muscle cramps, dizziness, deficiency in potassium, dangerously low blood pressure, arrhythmia, heat stroke and in some cases, death.

Creatine

Creatine is a supplement that athletes take to mimic the effect of the creatine that is naturally produced by the body. This provides short bursts of energy because it facilitates the transportation and storage of energy in the cells. Creatine can be beneficial to those who do weightlifting and sprints, but it has no significant benefits for those doing endurance sports such as marathons or triathlon.

Supplements including creatine are not regulated by the FDA and as such may carry risks. Some of the reported side effects that can possibly be experienced with the use of creatine include stomach cramps, nausea, muscle cramps, weight gain and diarrhea. Too much creatine can also possibly damage your kidneys and liver.

Stimulants

As the name suggests, stimulants stimulate our bodies’ central nervous system, increasing the heart rate and blood pressure. With stimulants, endurance can be improved, fatigue can be masked, appetite can be suppressed and a person can be more alert and in tune with his surroundings. This drug can also increase aggressiveness. Amphetamines and caffeine are common stimulants, along with the street drugs methamphetamine and cocaine.

Potential risks include nervousness, muscle spasms, dehydration, insomnia, and a strong risk of addiction. Other risks include heart palpitations, heart arrhythmia, convulsions, hypertension, weight loss, heart problems and stroke.