The Dangers of Using Performance Enhancing Drugs

More than 10,000 athletes from 205 countries will strive to win medals at the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, just started. “The heavy preparation for the Olympics puts severe strain on an athlete’s musculoskeletal frame,” said Edward McDevitt, MD, spokesperson for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) and orthopaedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine.

The dream of every athlete is to win a medal for his or her country,” stated Dr. McDevitt. “This is a great attitude to have, but it can become problematic if the athlete develops the ‘stop-at- nothing mentality’ to win.”

Athletes prepared to go to any lengths to win are known to use PEDs, performance enhancing drugs, which include Human Growth Hormones (hGH or IGF-1), erythropoietin (EPO), and anabolic steroids. The danger of using PEDs is that athletes are only interested in the potential short-term benefits of these drugs and do not consider the important long-term consequences of using them.

The AAOS stresses that severe long-term musculoskeletal, psychological and physiological risks attach to using them, including stunted growth, diabetes, impaired reproductive functioning, the spread of cancerous tumors, early osteoarthritis and accelerated vascular heart disease, heart attack, and strokes. Increased aggressiveness and the possibility of anti-social behavior can also ensue from using these drugs.

Anabolic steroids, growth hormone and other PEDs are readily available through the Internet and local gyms, and Dr. McDevitt recommends that physicians, coaches, trainers and parents maintain constant contact with their athletes to advise on the effects of PEDs.

“All of us who care about the health of our athletes should be aware of the warning signs of PED use for all athletes, not just Olympians,” stated Dr. McDevitt. The following warning signs should be looked for: a sudden increase in am athlete’s height or weight, a shrinking of the male testicles, male-pattern hair loss in men and women, significant acne on the athlete’s back, problems with anger management and increased aggressiveness.

“With the easy availability of these drugs, some athletes are looking to get bigger and stronger as quickly as possible,” stated Dr. enhancing drugs today can lead to life-long medical and musculoskeletal problems down the road.”McDevitt. “It is our responsibility to educate and inform our athletes of all ages that use of performance.

Source: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS)

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