athletics, racing

Anabolic-androgenic steroids abuse and its side effects on men, women, teenagers

Commonly known as Roids, Stackers, Gear and Juice, anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS) are among the drugs that are often abused. These generally manufactured substances are synthetic variations of the male sex hormone testosterone.

The side-effects of AAS abuse are either long-term or short-term, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). The short-term effects are related to the mental health of the abuser.

Short-term effects:
1. extreme mood swings with violent behaviors commonly known as roid rage
2. paranoid jealousy
3. impaired judgment
4. depression
5. delusions

Long-term effects:
1. kidney problems or failure
2. liver damage
3. enlarged heart
4. high blood pressure
5. changes in blood cholesterol
6. increased risk of stroke and heart attack
7. severe acne
8. body swelling

In a retrospective follow-up study titled “Somatic effects of AAS abuse: A 30-years follow-up study of male former power sports athletes,” Ann-Sophie Lindqvist Bagge, Thord Rosen, Claudia Fahlke, Christer Ehrnborg, Bengt O. Eriksson, Tommy Moberg and Ingemar Thiblin investigated the association between somatic health and former abuse of AAS in former elite male athletes three decades after their active sports career ended. Results showed that former AAS abuse was associated with:

1. tendon ruptures
2. depression
3. anxiety
4. lower prevalence of prostate hypertrophy
5. decreased libido

The other effects of AAS abuse are gender- and age-specific, the NIDA pointed out. Katherine M. Fortinash and Patricia A. Holoday-Worret enumerated the physical changes of this abuse to men, women and teenagers in the fifth edition of the book “Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing.”

In men:
1. genital shrinking
2. infertility
3. reduced sperm count
4. baldness
5. development of breasts
6. increased risk for prostate cancer

In women:
1. growth of facial hair or excess body hair
2. male-pattern baldness
3. deepened voice
4. changes in menstrual cycle
5. enlargement of the clitoris

In teenagers:
1. stunted height
2. stunted growth

Some athletes and AAS abusers try to avoid these unwanted side effects by stacking, cycling or pyramiding but scientific evidence has yet to prove their effectiveness. Those who stack combine two or more different types of steroids and those who cycle take doses for a period of time, stop for a time and then restart while those who pyramid slowly increase the dose or frequency then reach a peak amount and gradually taper off.

During the 1936 Berlin Olympics, some German athletes were said to be given androgens, Nicholas Wade wrote in “Anabolic Steroids: Doctors Denounce Them, but Athletes Aren’t Listening.” But in Olympic history, the Soviet weight-lifting team in the 1952 and 1956 Olympic Games is the most well-known phase of AAS abuse.

The introduction of AAS among the American athletes is credited to Dr. John Ziegler, a United States Weight-Lifting Team member. In 1954, he learned about the use of AAS by the Russian team during his trip to weight-lifting championships in Vienna, Austria, Michael S. Bahrke and Charles E. Yesalis wrote in “Abuse of anabolic androgenic steroids and related substances in sport and exercise.”

In mixed martial arts (MMA), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) President Dana White stripped Jon “Bones” Jones of the Light Heavyweight Champion title because the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) confirmed that the MMA fighter tested positive for an oral AAS called Turinabol from his test sample collected after weigh-ins on July 28 at “UFC 214.” The title was returned to Jones’s most recent opponent, Daniel Cormier.

Meanwhile, here is a video about the consequences of AAS. It includes the daily routine of Mike Bolkovic, a bodybuilder injecting testosterone:

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