Home Lifestyle Health & Fitness Anabolic Steroids: Facts, Effects and Health Risks

Anabolic Steroids: Facts, Effects and Health Risks

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Human bodies, as well as plants and animals, naturally produce testosterone which is a steroid. Along with testosterone, estrogen, cortisol and cholesterol, all of which are naturally produced by the body, are also steroids.

The problem arises when these hormones or their chemically prepared counter parts are injected in the human bodies. They are unhealthy and eventually even dangerous. Our body makes its own steroids. Anything from outside is unnatural.

Synthetic steroids can come in tablet, capsule or liquid form, as well as gels, creams and patches. They are often used by athletes and sports-persons to enhance their on field-performance and improve body appearance. These are known as anabolic steroids. The other form of steroids are corticosteroids.

drug injections in body

Anabolic steroids are basically hormones that are used to influence the body’s hormonal system and increase the level of testosterone. The goal is to increase the muscle mass. Corticosteroids, on the other hand, are used routinely as anti-inflammatory medication in the treatment of illnesses like asthma, arthritis and dermatitis.

Christopher Michael Benoit was a Canadian professional wrestler who was a two-time world champion. During his 22 year career, he held 22 titles and was widely respected both by viewers and peers. This could have been an inspiring story of success and achievement had it not ended in such a morbid and tragic way.

On 22nd June, 2007, Benoit murdered his wife and 7-year old son, and subsequently hanged himself. Over a period of three days, he had bound and suffocated his wife, drugged and strangled his son, and then hung himself on the cable of a weight machine.

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The Benoit family: Nancy, Daniel and Chris.

He was found to have Xanax, hydrocodone and an elevated level of testosterone caused by a synthetic form of the hormone in his system. The testosterone level was said to have been prescribed due to a possible treatment for a deficiency caused by steroid abuse in his past. Anabolic steroids were also found in his house.

As WWE attorney Jerry McDevitt said, testosterone was prescribed as a part of testosterone replacement therapy for people who had used steroids in the past and had suffered testicular damage as a result.

It is widely believed that this episode of murder-suicide was the direct result of a condition known as ‘roid-rage’ wherein steroid use is linked to uncontrollable anger and other psychological issues including paranoia, depression and violent outbursts.

Massive costs and no benefits

Steroids are taken orally, applied to the skin or injected, and typically taken in cycles of weeks or months (called “cycling”), which involves taking multiple doses of steroids over a specific period of time, stopping for a period, and starting again. In addition, users frequently combine several different types of steroids to maximize their effectiveness  effects (known as stacking).

According to Dr. Wadler, spokesman for the American College of Sports Medicine, a member of the World Anti-Doping Agency, and author of the textbook, Drugs and the Athlete, there used to be many valid reasons for the use of anabolic drugs, however with the development of better drugs and medication, those reasons have become void.

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While they serve very little or no purpose, the use of steroids can cause many, often irreversible, side-effects. These side-effects are due to the unusual and abnormally high levels of testosterone in the body. Initial effects include rapid weight gain and unusual mood-swings. There is an increased aggressiveness.

Acne is almost always seen. Because the use of steroids suppresses the natural testosterone production in the body, it causes decreased sperm production, infertility, and baldness. Liver damage can often occur and sometimes lead to liver cancer.

The heart muscle enlarges and causes palpitations and potentiality of a sudden heart attack. The side-effects also include high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and high blood sugar. There is an increased risk of prostate cancer.

Psychiatric side-effects are also pronounced. There are extreme mood swings causing excitation and depression. Episodes of aggressive and manic behavoiur are also seen. Researchers have also observed that users may suffer from paranoid jealousy, extreme irritability, delusions, and impaired judgment stemming from feelings of being undefeatable.

Roid rage, in many ways, is a loss of impulse control. It provokes overreactions to situations which would not generally produce such a severe reaction.

The use of steroids has been found to be the cause of murders in a number of cases, like the case of Chris Benoit. It can also result in suicide. Steroids can also unmask an underlying psychiatric disorder that has been basically kept in check until the individual is exposed to this category of drugs.

There also seems to be a correlation that higher the dose of steroids, the greater the likelihood of having roid rage.

Pehelwani and the Indian way

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Pehelwani is a form of wrestling in South Asia. A few of the known Indian pehelwans in the past include Banda Bahadur, Harish-chandra Birajdar, Jatindra Charan Gama, and Dara Singh. Legendary wrestlers in the past like Karl Gotch had made tours to India in order to learn kushti and hone their skills.

Pehelwani exercises have been incorporated into many aspects of catch wrestling and shoot wrestling. These systems also borrow throws, submissions and takedowns from kushti.

In the IV Asian Games in 1962, all the seven Indian wrestlers were placed on the medal list and won 12 medals in freestyle wrestling and Greco-Roman wrestling.

In the Commonwealth Games held at Kingston, all the 8 Indian wrestlers won medals for the country. During the 60s, India was ranked among the top eight or nine wrestling nations of the world and hosted the world wrestling championships in New Delhi in 1967.

And all these feats were achieved without the use of synthetic steroids while following a healthy and natural diet. Milk, ghee and almonds are regarded as the holy trinity of the Pehelwani Khurak (diet).

A common snack for pehlwan are chickpeas that have been sprouted overnight in water and seasoned with salt, pepper and lemon; the water in which the chickpeas were sprouted is also regarded as nutritious.

The consumption of apples, bananas, figs, pomegranates, and watermelons is recommended. Orange juice and green vegetables are also recommended. Ideally, wrestlers are supposed to avoid sour and excessively spiced foods such as chatni and achar. The consumption of alcohol, tobacco, and meat is strongly discouraged.

Addiction

Even though anabolic steroids do not cause the same high as other drugs, steroids can lead to addiction. When a person on steroids starts experiencing physical problems or negative effects on relationships, he may still continue with the steroid abuse, just as with drug abuse. Also, steroid abusers typically spend large amounts of time and money obtaining the drug—another indication of addiction.

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Individuals who abuse steroids can experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking them including mood swings, fatigue, restlessness, loss of appetite, insomnia, and steroid cravings. One of the most dangerous withdrawal symptoms is depression which, when persistent, can sometimes lead to suicide attempts. Research has found that some steroid abusers turn to other drugs such as opioids to counteract the negative effects of steroids.

As nations across the world have recognised the ill-effects and possibly horrible outcomes of steroid usage, in order to preserve their market the steroid makers have attempted to create what are known as ‘designer steroids’ that are manufactured to pass drug tests. A major concern is that it is a silent epidemic.

With drugs such as heroin and cocaine, the addict doesn’t look well, loses weight, and the addiction shows on the body. People using anabolic steroids look well, put on muscle mass, and are more assertive. Resultantly, most people do not realise that there could be something wrong with them.

The Unknown Steroid Intake

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It is known that steroids are rampantly used in the production of dairy and other products. Injecting certain hormones can make young animals gain weight faster. This helps in reducing the waiting time and the amount of feed eaten by an animal before being slaughtered. In dairy, cows are injected with hormones to increase milk production. Thus, steroids can increase the profitability of the meat and dairy industries.

Numerous studies have found out that, when consumed by humans, these hormones significantly increase the risk of cancer. The effects of ingesting these hormones is best seen in children. Because their hormone levels are naturally low, the consumption of any meat or dairy product with these growth hormones can cause a drastic spike in a child’s hormone levels. This can cause poor brain development.

In adults, the effects also include hormonal imbalances and liver and kidney failure. The other problem with these steroids is that they also create bacteria in humans that is immune to treatments for most diseases.

Steroids available naturally

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There are numerous naturally occurring options and foods that a person can consume, in order to have the positive effects seen by steroid usage and to avoid the several dangers.

The best form of naturally occurring steroids are seen in spinach (palak). Studies have proven that the consumption of spinach increased the production of protein in the body by 20% and decreased the overall protein degradation. Also, it relaxes blood veins and arteries, thus improving blood flow. Spinach is also rich in multi vitamins and minerals needed for the healthy production of testosterone.

Quinoa (rajgira) is rich in carbohydrates and should be consumed mainly before bed and after workouts. It is also rich in ecdysteroids  which is a very powerful testosterone-like natural steroid.

According to latest research, even the smell of celery (ajmud) stimulates the production of testosterone, and it also known to be full of two more natural steroids called Androstenone and Androstenol.

Fava beans (papdi) are well known for their ability to increase human growth hormone and dopamine levels, both which help in the increasing of testosterone levels, because they rise in correlation with it.

Apart from these, there are hundreds of anabolic foods and plants that contain natural steroids.

-The use of steroids has been found to be the cause of murders in a number of cases, like the case of Chris Benoit. It can also result in suicide.

-The use of steroids suppresses the natural testosterone production in the body, it can cause decreased sperm production, infertility, and baldness. Liver damage can often occur and sometimes lead to liver cancer.

-The best form of naturally occurring steroids are seen in spinach (palak). Studies have proven that the consumption of spinach increased the production of protein in the body by 20% and decreased the overall protein degradation.

The Last Word

Steroids are a thing of the past.  But in this day and age, when science has progressed in leaps and bounds, and also when we are discovering the medical basis of sound age-old practices, the use of steroids in spite of knowing the ill-effects of its abuse, can be nothing more than self-harm.

Chemicals belong in laboratories, not in human bodies.  The best way to develop sustainable health is to follow a well developed, natural, vegetarian diet and exercise.

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