Kids MD - Steroid Use on the Rise

Kristen DiPaolo | CWK Network

"They see their body quote withering away, getting back to how they were pre-steroid use, and they don't like it."
- Dr. David Marshall, MD, Director of the Sports Medicine Program, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta

20-year-old Peter started using illegal steroids to look good. He says, "The attention from females is like, it was pretty ridiculous to be honest with you."

Steroids are risky… but he says there's a way to minimize the risk. Peter says, "We're not idiots, we are not going to go jumping into something that you know is harmful to you."

Initially, the harm is acne, baldness, and male breast enlargement. That's why some users "cycle" the drug. They take it for a month or two and then stop.

Dr. David Marshall, the director of the sports medicine program at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta says,

"They take it for six to eight week cycles and then come off of it. Then of course they are going to see that some of those effects are going to improve. The acne will get better, the baldness will get better, the breast enlargement will improve, and then they feel it's okay to start another cycle."

Peter planned to quit after just one cycle. That was two years ago…. and he's still using. Peter says, "It's called bigorexia, it's the opposite of anorexia, you just can't see yourself not getting bigger and bigger."

Dr. Marshall says, "They see their body quote withering away, getting back to how they were pre-steroid use, and they don't like it. They want to be back where they were because of all the benefits they got in the short term."

Experts say parents need to know that steroids are addictive, and the longer a child uses them, the greater the chance of damage to the heart, liver, and testicles.

Peter says, "I know I'm at risk and I'm doing it to myself, and it's just one of those things that I hope doesn't come back and bite me, which it has a good chance of doing."

Dr. Marshall says, "Somehow we need to get through to them that you are having fun now, and this is good now, but you are going to pay the price with your health later on."

By Larry Eldridge
CWK Network, Inc.
Anabolic steroids, synthetic substances related to testosterone (the male sex hormone), can cause permanent damage to the heart, liver and kidneys, plus other physical and psychiatric side effects . A user typically takes several different types of oral and/or injected steroids, in multiple doses, for a specific period of time, and then stops for a set period of time before starting again. The warning signs of steroid use include:

Exaggerated mood swings, increased irritability and aggression, and other behavioral changes such as euphoria, increased energy, sexual arousal, mood swings, distractibility, forgetfulness, confusion and depression.
Unusually greasy skin with stretch marks.
Sudden increase in muscle size.
Severe acne and stunting of bone growth.
Jaundice (yellowing of the whites of the eyes), fluid retention, high blood pressure, increases in LDL (bad cholesterol) and decreases in HDL (good cholesterol).
In males, shrinking of the testicles, difficulty or pain in urinating, baldness and breast enlargement.
In females, development of masculine characteristics, such as decreased body fat and breast size, deepening of the voice, excessive growth of body hair and loss of scalp hair.
If you suspect your child may be using steroids, call your family doctor immediately.

By Larry Eldridge
CWK Network, Inc.
Understand the pressure that may drive young athletes to use steroids and talk to your children about healthy competition. Encourage your child to prepare mentally for sporting events by practicing hard, getting sufficient sleep and eating right.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that 325,000 teenage boys and 175,000 teenage girls are using steroids. Health problems caused by steroids may not appear for years after the steroids are taken. Steroids can cause bones to fuse early and prevent teens from reaching full growth potential. In addition to the health risks, steroids are illegal. Drug testing for all athletes has become more prevalent, and athletes who fail a drug test for steroids can face numerous legal consequences – jail time, monetary fines, exclusion from an event or from the team, or seizure of trophies or medals.

Steroids taken for an extended period of time can also:

Stunt growth in teens by causing the growth plates in the bones to mature too fast and fuse.
Cause irreversible liverdamage.
Enlarge the heart muscles.
Cause violent, aggressive mood swings.
Contribute to heart disease.
Increase cholesterol and lipid levels.
Increase breast growth in males, especially teens.
Create irreversible stretch marks.
Heighten a person's tendency to lose hair.
Cause muscles to ache.
In addition to these, teen girls and women risk additional side effects:

Permanent effects of male hair growth or male-pattern baldness
Deepening of the voice

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