The Paw Print
Imagine this: you grow up watching a sports legend on television. He breaks several records, and you grow up practically idolizing him, only to see him get busted for using anabolic steroids. Then you end up despising him because he cheated throughout his entire career. He gets booted off the team and is never heard from again. Then there is the case where the athlete goes through his career using steroids, goes completely unnoticed, and confesses at the end of his career that he had been using them all along. Steroids, as a whole, are used for a variety of purposes, from medical purposes to athletes using them to bulk up or run faster. Some of the medical uses for steroids vary from breathing medications to assisting adolescent males in puberty. Several athletes in almost every sport are abusing anabolic steroids with a dose ten to one hundred times the dosage used for medical purposes. Steroids have a good use, helping with some medical treatments; other than that, they should not be made available except for what is considered a healthy dose for treatment.
One of the most well-known brands of steroids is HGH or Human Growth Hormone. It is typically used in cattle to fatten them up and put more meat on them before slaughter and being sent to the market. Then, of course, you have the many athletes in sports that use them constantly to improve their performance. Now as far as taking steroids, there are two different ways to take them: they can either be taken orally (as a pill or powder in extreme excess), or injected directly into the bloodstream. HGH is a very delicate and complex 191 amino acid hormone; it cannot be taken orally. Since HGH is such an unstable amino acid, if it were put into a powder, pill, or spray, it would break down before it could even reach the bloodstream. So companies that make HGH couldn’t break the law and turn it into a pill or powder if they tried. Then there’s a reason why it’s mostly professional athletes who get routine injections of HGH. Some clinics charge their patients more than 2,000 dollars a month.
Of course HGH is not the only “supplement” out there; there are also supplements in everyday products for athletes sitting on the shelves of the supermarket down the street. One example is a product called Creatine Plus. It is available as both a protein powder and in a pill, although I believe it is most often purchased as a powder. As with many sport supplements, the advertisements make vague claims like “boosts muscle size and strength” or “increases energy.” Using supplements like this can add up to hundreds or thousands of dollars a year for continuous and long-term use. Take Creatine Plus, for example. A thirty ounce size costs fifteen dollars and using a dosage of six ounces per day, one would end up spending 1,095 dollars a year! This just goes to show that any sport supplement can be used in major excess in order to boost performance even faster, and then that “supplement” becomes a drug.
In the sports world, drug usage has gone completely out of control. More athletes today are using steroids to get bulked up, get stronger, faster, and be the best in their sport. Athletes use steroids as an easy way to getting stronger and faster more quickly apart from being honest and working their butts off in the gym. Few athletes used steroids back in the day, and most of them died at a fairly young age because of the long-term effects after they stopped using steroids when their careers ended. The modern craze about athletes in the National Football League all started back in 1985 with the biggest celebrity of the Chicago Bears: defensive tackle William “The Refrigerator” Perry. Now he wasn’t loved because he was the best player on the defense or called upon to carry the ball at the goal line. Perry weighed an even three hundred pounds. The very idea of a man that huge inspired laughter and even awe among fans. In 1990, five years later, the NFL had 35 players who were three hundred pounds or more. Then at the start of the 2005 season, the NFL had many players among linemen who were three hundred pounds or more. To be honest, it would be easier to count the number of players who were less than three hundred pounds. The number of three hundred pound players in the NFL has increased exponentially in the same way that 50 home run seasons have become more common in Major League Baseball.
Some players have even suffered severe mental and physical side-effects after they retired from playing. One perfect example is former Denver Broncos, Cleveland Browns, and Los Angeles Raiders defensive lineman Lyle Alzado. He used steroids constantly from 1969 up until the end of his career. During his retirement in 1992, Alzado died from brain cancer that he was diagnosed with the year before. He was certain that although steroids helped him become a great player, they were directly responsible for his cancer. Before his death, he urged athletes to stop using steroids. Sports Illustrated featured Alzado on its cover with the words, “I Lied.” Alzado became the poster boy for the hazards of steroids, though some doctors questioned whether steroid use caused his cancer.
Although men are typically the ones who use anabolic steroids, studies show that some women use them as well. Few studies have actually been done about the effects of anabolic steroids on women. Gruber and Pope Jr. evaluated 75 female body builders and weightlifters about their use of steroids. So why do some women use steroids? Ten of the 75 weightlifters were raped as teenagers or adults, and most started or increased their weightlifting activities as a defensive strategy. Unfortunately, they are running a large risk of their own health by using anabolic steroids. Some of the women who get raped think that there is nothing they can do to prevent it from happening again, while others take it into their own hands. Some might go out and buy pepper spray for their purse or a Taser to hide in their bra in case of an emergency. Some women, on the other hand, would choose to start up a work-out regimen; some of those may choose to add anabolic steroids to their workouts to try and get stronger and be able to defend themselves if it should happen again. What women don’t realize is that steroid abuse can have several negative side-effects that are both physical and emotional. The physical damages of steroid use can be reversed; the emotional damage, on the other hand, is much more challenging to try to treat.
As it turns out, steroids are good for more than just allowing people to bulk up and get stronger; they also help treat various medical conditions. Steroids are good for being used in several medical treatments, such as being used in breathing meds for an inhaler, or for pain reduction in acute pharyngitis. For those of you who do not know what acute pharyngitis is, it is basically medical terminology for a serious sore throat. The pain that the steroids relieve would be from the inflammation of the pharynx and the surrounding lymphatic tissue caused by a bacterial throat infection. One of the earliest studies conducted to battle cancer was done in 1974 to counteract advanced gastric cancer in 116 patients. Although the patients’ appetite improved on active treatment, this was not sustained and it did not promote weight gain or improve performance status. Then you have some aspects of treatment that may sound less appealing. Testicular cancer can often require that a man’s testicles be removed. When the surgery is over, he is prescribed oral anabolic steroids in order to maintain his secondary sexual characteristics because his body is no longer able to produce testosterone. Although it is not an officially approved medical use for anabolic steroids in the United States, a high dosage is given to a transsexual woman who would wish to obtain permanent masculinity. If a young man is delayed in the stages of puberty due to a malfunctioning pituitary gland, and is the appropriate age for puberty, then he can be given injections of anabolic steroids for a four to six month period in a proper dosing schedule until a growth spurt is caused and he naturally begins development of secondary sexual characteristics. After the young male’s pituitary gland is producing the normal levels of testosterone without outside assistance, he would be taken off the steroids and mature naturally.
This all just goes to show that even though steroids have legitimate medical uses, they are still illegally used throughout the sports world. What would you do if you found out that the football player you grew up watching got busted for steroid use? Would you despise him for cheating like that or would you just forget about him altogether? Maybe you will hear about how an athlete confesses sometime during his retirement that he used anabolic steroids throughout his entire professional career. Apart from the medical uses for steroids, steroids are frequently used by athletes who take the easy way out to become the best. All this evidence shows that even though anabolic steroids have several legitimate medical uses, they should be discontinued and unavailable except for medical treatment.
Carroll, Will. The Juice: The Real Story of Baseball’s Drug Problems. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2005. Print.
Fattal, Omar, Donald Malone, Jr, and Farid Talih. Anabolic steroid abuse: Psychiatric and physical costs. Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine. Cleveland: May 2007. Vol. 74(5) 341-352. Print.
Gruber, AJ, and HG Pope Jr. “Psychiatric and Medical Effects of Anabolic-Androgenic Steroid use in Women.” Psychotherapy Psychosomatic. 69. (2000): 19-26. Print.
Korb, Katrin, Martin Scherer, and Jean-Francois Chenot. “Steroids as Adjuvant therapy for Acute Pharyngitis in Ambulatory Patients: A Systematic Review.” Annals of Family Medicine 8.1 (2010): 58-63. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 1 Nov. 2010.
Mumford, S. “Reviewing the evidence for prescribing steroids for non-specific symptoms in patients with advanced cancer.” International Journal of Palliative Nursing 16.8 (2010): 406-410. CINAHL Plus with Full Text. EBSCO. Web. 1 Nov. 2010.
Robinson, Dean J. “Potential Negative Side Effects of Steroid Use.” Pump The Brakes. WordPress.com, 17 Sep 2009. Web. 8 Nov 2010.
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