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Want some muscles or to reduce your body fat?  Working out but still not seeing much difference?  Would taking supplements like a steroid or a nutritional supplement help?

With football practices starting up your son might want an advantage to be the best on the team.  It seems like many athletes are taking steroids or supplements thinking that “bigger is better,” and “being the best is more important than how you get there.”   Since they do it, it must be alright.  But wait! 

Some athletes take anabolic steroids to increase muscle mass and strength.  These drugs appear to make muscles bigger and may help athletes recover from a workout more quickly, which means they can work out more frequently and harder.  However, the use of these drugs is not recommended for improving athletic performance and many cause some serious side effects or risks. These drugs are dangerous and when used may cause some severe, long-lasting and irreversible negative health consequences.   This can be especially serious for youth, whose bodies are still growing and developing.  The Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse has an online letter warning about the use of anabolic steroids and encouraging young people and adults not to take unnecessary health risks by using steroids.  Some of the serious adverse effects may not be recognized for many years.

Risks of anabolic steroids include:

  • Short Stature (if taken by adolescents)
  • Increased tendinitis and tendon rupture
  • Severe acne and cysts
  • Liver abnormalities and tumors
  • Liver cancer
  • Increased LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol)
  • Decreased HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol)
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart attacks
  • Aggressive behaviors
  • Depression
  • Drug dependence
  • kidney damage

The FDA warns that many bodybuilding products sold online as well as in retail stores are labeled as “dietary supplements.”  However, these are not dietary supplements but are illegally marketed and unapproved new drugs.  They have not been reviewed by the FDA for safety, effectiveness, or quality.  A study done by Consumer Reports some years ago highlighted problems with many bodybuilding substances as many of them had substances not on the label and not approved by the FDA.

The FDA recommends you do not take bodybuilding products.  If you are taking them they recommend you stop taking them immediately.  They encourage you to talk to your health care professional about the products you were taking.

Author:  Pat Brinkman, Extension Educator Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension

Reviewer: Dan Remley, Field Specialist, Food, Nutrition, and Wellness, Ohio State University Extension

References:

Federal Drug Administration. (2017). Caution: Bodybuilding Products Can Be Risky. FDA Consumer Updates.  Available at https://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm173739.htm

National Institute on Drug Abuse, (2006). What are the Health Consequences of Steroid Abuse? National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institute of Health.  Available at https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/anabolic-steroid-abuse/what-are-health-consequences-steroid-abuse

Volkow, N.D. (2006). Letter From the Director, National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health.  Available at https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/anabolic-steroid-abuse/letter-director

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