Saturday, June 05, 2004

The Nanny State Prepares to Strike Again

On Thursday, the House passed legislation that would effectively ban the sale of steroid precursors, such as Andro or 1AD. (story) This comes on the heels of a ban of ephedra that was enacted earlier this year. Once again, the nanny state is in a tither because some people do not know how to take supplements safely and correctly.

The ephedra ban was spurred on by a couple of high profile incidents, which happened to involve individuals who were not taking the supplement as directed. All ephedra/caffeine stack products carried with them warnings as to dosage amounts, the use of other stimulants, and the need for proper hydration. Unfortunately, there are some people in our society who do not seem to understand directions. To those people, if the indicated dose of three pills twice per day was good, then five or six pills twice per day must be even better. And because of these idiots, people like myself and countless others who have used ephedra safely are no longer able to do so.

Now, the uproar over steroids and BALCO is going to cost bodybuilders another set of supplements as Congress rushes to "do something." While the research on pro-hormones is relatively mixed (some of them also produce an estrogenic effect (ie, man boobies and a soft appearance of the muscle), there are those in the bodybuilding community who swear by these products. Usually, they are stacked with other products that will combat the estrogenic effects and people do see some benefits. Personally, I have not had great success with pro-hormones and have found that other supplements (such as those that restrict production of sex hormone binding globulin) and would not use pro-hormones again. But because I have not found them effective does not change my opposition to a ban.

The prime concern seems to be, in both instances, these supplements misuse, especially by the young. This is especially galling to those of us who are adults who can, and have, used these supplements safely. Not to mention that tobacco is many degrees more dangerous, yet it remains available and is only prohibited to those people under eighteen (at least in theory it is). But I suppose that the big campaign contributions from Big Tobacco help ease the concerns of Congress over the hazards of tobacco use among Americans. And what of parents? Maybe if they paid more attention to what their kids were doing and putting into their bodies we would not have to ban entire classes of supplements. (One also has to wonder if the ban of pro-hormones will not actually increase the use of real steroids.)

Political leaders talk about personal responsibility and the lack thereof in our society. But when given a choice between exercising nanny-state powers or leaving it up to personal responsibility, their words become mere rhetoric. And then they wonder why people are unwilling to take responsibility. But if the government continues to take away our opportunities to exercise personal responsibility, we will soon forget how to do so ourselves.


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