Friday, January 19, 2007

Roid Rage

So much ink has been spilled over steroid use in the past few years that one begins to think it's our nation's number one problem. The government is breathing down the neck of Major League Baseball, the NFL suspends players, and anti-steroid zealots continue their drug war rhetoric. All the while tens of thousands of American men safely, effectively, and legally use oral, injectible or cream forms of testosterone and rHGH.

The reality of steroids, HGH and other "performance enhancing" drugs is quite different from the pitcture painted by our irresponsible and sensationalist media. We are bombarded with stories about the physiological and psychological risks of steroids. But research published in peer reviewed medical and science journals paint a far different picture. And that is steroids are safe when taken in the proper dosage range.

Are there health risks? Of course, but that can be said for nearly anything you eat, swallow or drink. One of the risks of steroid use is to the liver, especially when using oral forms. That is why injectible forms are preferable; they enter the bloodstream without passing through the liver. One of the other main risks of anabolic drugs is their effect on endogenous hormone production. But this is seen primarily, if not exclusively, in people who either take mega-dosages or who fail to cycle correctly.

This is not to say that steroids are for everyone. People under a certain age really ought not take steroids, in large part because their own bodies are producing sufficient testosterone and introducing exogenous T could be dangerous and counterproductive. They are also decidedly not for people who already have liver problems or high cholesterol. Many steroids will lower the body's HDL (good cholesterol) levels.

Yet these are problems that can be mitigated. First of all, people should have their liver enzymes and HDL levels monitored over the course of their cycle. They should also increase their consumption of healthy fatty acids and add a liver supplement (ie, milk thistle extract) to their diet. Cycles should be well planned out, with all the appropriate elements on hand, including post cycle therapy (aromatase inhibitors).

Hopefully we can come to a more sane policy towards steroids and other anabolics. Keep in mind that these are legally prescribed medications and the only reason that there is an underground supply of them is because of our country's anti-steroid policies. It's ironic that my right to determine what substances to put in my body should be limited by a bunch of trans-fat eating, alcohol drinking, smokers.

And one other myth that needs to be dispelled. Steroids do not give you muscle, nor do they make you hit homeruns. Muscle is gained by hard work in the gym, proper nutrition, clean lifestyle and adequate rest. Homeruns come from the ability to hit a 98 mph fastball or a hanging curveball. There are no magic pills or magic syringes. And perhaps American only want to believe there are, for it gives them an excuse as to why their lazy ass is on the couch while others are out growing bigger and stronger.


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