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Get The Real Facts about Steroids

By: Scott Becker

With baseball player Roger Clemens's testimony before Congress in regard to his alleged use of Anabolic steroids, steroids use has recently been in the news.

Except for certain prescribed and specific medical conditions, Anabolic steroids which Clemen's allegedly used are illegal. They must also be used under a physician's strict supervision. They can have dangerous and even deadly side effects when taken without medical supervision; even once off the drug, the side effects can be permanent.

For example, in 1992, football player Lyle Alzado died of a cancerous brain tumor that may in part have been caused by his long-term anabolic steroid use. Other steroidal medications, such as cortisone or other corticosteroids can be prescribed under a doctor's supervision. These function as anti-inflammatories and are different than the anabolic steroids athletes use.

In sports, anabolic steroids are illegal in part because they artificially enhance performance instead of relying on the athlete's own innate ability and physical fitness to bolster performance. This, of course, is unethical. The only way to win fairly and without cheating is to rely on your own abilities. You have to work hard to maintain peak physical fitness and performance, but it's the only right way to win.

Oftentimes, athletes, and especially young athletes, overlook the dangers of taking steroids to get the short-term performance benefits steroids can give them. However, this is a dangerous and even deadly practice, with long-term health consequences.

Here's what can happen when athletes or anyone else take anabolic steroids:

* High blood pressure (which in turn can cause stroke or heart attack)
* A reduction in "good" cholesterol
* Cancer
* Liver damage
* Aggressive behavior, even leading to violence
* Depression
* Acne
* Stunted growth in young people
* Hair loss
* "Reverse" gender characteristics' appearance, such as breast growth in men and facial/body hair growth and breast reduction in women

Although enhancing your performance by natural, honest methods is not as quick and easy as steroid use, in the long run, it's much healthier and ethical to do so.

First, there's no substitute for regular exercise. Exercise produces a natural "high" of its own, because it releases "feel-good" hormones called endorphins. However, endorphins are a completely healthy high and only benefit you.

Second, a good diet is also important. Your body can't function as it should without proper nutrition. You need to fuel your "engines" properly in order to work out effectively.

Third, if the person is still growing, they have to be careful as to how much they challenge themselves with weightlifting or other extremely strenuous sports. Of course, weightlifting is good when done in moderation so that you can build muscles, but young athletes especially have to be careful of injury that may in fact be permanent. Only perform extreme types of exercise such as weightlifting under a coach's specific supervision.

Finally, there are some supplements you can take that appear to be healthy and beneficial. A good multivitamin supplement is a good start.

Even though the focus of many sports is "to win," remember that you have to win honestly and fairly. If you don't, it simply doesn't count.

Scott Becker is an expert in the fields of health and nutrition. Over the past 10 years he has been written on numerous topics. He is an avid golfer and along with writing, he owns, a sports nutrition company serving the weekend athlete. For more information go to

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