Thursday, September 10, 2009

What Are Performance Enhancing Substances?

For some athletes, winning is everything -- and they'll do anything to be the strongest, the fastest, and the best. Instead of old-fashioned hard work and training, some athletes are turning to performance enhancing substances to boost athletic performance, ward off fatigue, and enhance their physical appearance. Performance enhancing substances are taken to increase muscle mass and strength, reduce weight, and hide the use of other illegal substances.

So what's the problem with taking performance enhancing substances? (besides putting your aakhirah in jeopardy?)
Negative side effects, that's what. Whether they're over-the-counter or illegal, performance enhancing substances can take their toll on a developing body, which is why it's especially dangerous for teen athletes to experiment with these substances.

What are steroids?
Anabolic androgenic steroids are a group of powerful compounds closely related to the male sex hormone testosterone. There are very few legitimate medical uses of anabolic androgenic steroids, including treatment of severe testosterone deficiency and certain kinds of anemia. Body builders, long-distance runners, cyclists and other athletes who may use these substances illegally claim that anabolic steroids give them a competitive advantage and/or improve their physical appearance.

What are the common names or slang terms for steroids?
The common names or slang terms for anabolic androgenic steroids include Juice, Roids, Gym Candy, and Pumpers.

What do steroids look like?
Anabolic androgenic steroids come in tablets or injectable liquid form.

How are steroids used?
Anabolic androgenic steroids can be taken orally or injected. Athletes and other abusers typically take steroids in periods of weeks or months, rather than continuously, in patterns called cycling. Users generally combine or “stack” several different types of steroids to maximize their effectiveness while attempting to minimize negative side effects.
What are their short and long-term effects on the body?
Although anabolic androgenic steroids may increase lean muscle mass, strength, and the ability to train longer and harder, the serious side effects of steroids are many and may not be reversible. The minor side effects of steroid use include acne, oily skin, excess hair growth, and deepening of the voice. The major side effects of steroid use include an increased risk of cancer, increased risk of heart and liver disease, jaundice, fluid retention, reduction in HDL-C (“good cholesterol”), high blood pressure, changes in blood coagulation, increased risk of atherosclerosis, swelling of the soft tissues of the extremities (edema), and obstructive sleep apnea. Side effects specific to men can include testicular atrophy or the shrinking of the testicles, reduced sperm count, infertility, baldness, and the development of breasts. For women, side effects can include enlargement of the clitoris, changes in the body contour growth of facial hair, disruption of the menstrual cycle, deepened voice and infertility.An increase in androgenic (male) hormones may also lead to aggressive behavior. Research also indicates that steroid users often suffer from paranoid jealousy, extreme irritability, delusions, and impaired judgment stemming from feelings of invincibility.Adolescents who abuse steroids are at a significant risk of suffering irreversible side effects, including stunted growth, accelerated puberty changes and abnormal sexual development. Adolescent girls in particular may suffer from severe acne, excessive body and facial hair, deepened voice, permanent enlargement of the clitoris, disruption of the menstrual cycle, and permanent infertility.

Competition can be a great thing – but not when you value your winning record over your deen, brain and body. Winning isn’t everything, especially when you are risking your aakhirah, health and reputation to get ahead. Even if you’re using a legal performance enhancing substance, you are still putting your health and body at risk. Parents should know the facts about performance enhancing substances so that they can have an educated conversation with their teen about the dangers and consequences of using these substances.

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