Thesis: The issue of growth hormones and anabolic steroids misuse is of special importance nowadays. Anabolic steroids allow sportsmen to gain the necessary muscle much faster when participating in various sports. However, it has deleterious impact on people’s health.
- The history of anabolic steroids
a. The origin of the idea of using steroids.
b. The idea of using steroids in sport.
- The original purpose of using steroids.
- Steroids on Olympic Games.
- The side effects of using steroids.
a. Reproductive system.
b. Cardiovascular system.
e. Immune system.
f. Cosmetic problems.
The issue of growth hormones and anabolic steroids misuse is of special importance nowadays. Anabolic steroids allow sportsmen to gain the necessary muscle much faster when participating in various sports. They believe that they can achieve success only by using steroids. This problem is also spread among students. According to United States, General Accounting Office (1989),, “… 6.6 percent of male 12th graders use or have used anabolic steroids. Moreover, among high school students, male athletes were found to be the most frequent users of anabolic steroids.” The problem lies in the fact that most students are not even familiar with the negative impact that anabolic steroids have on their body. This research paper is going to discuss the main topics according to this issue: the original purpose of using steroids, the origin of the idea of using steroids, the side effects of steroids on human and the ways to overcome the problem of misuse with growth hormones and anabolic steroids.
Anabolic steroids – are the doping agents synthesized on the basis of the testosterone (the male sex hormone). The term anabolic steroids is often mistakenly used to describe food additives that enhance the performance and recovery.
Growth Hormone is a synthetic analog of human growth hormone. It is controlled by the pituitary gland and is responsible for the growth of everything from bone to muscle tissue organs. Increased level of growth hormone leads to the development of new cells, altering the genetic potential of muscle growth.
The History of Anabolic Steroids
The history of anabolic steroids dates back to ancient times since the first such drugs were used by the ancient Greeks and Romans. Professional athletes ate glands of animals. There were also such widespread practice in China to consume extracts of seminal glands, mixed with an extract of deer horns, tiger bones and bear bile.
a. The Origin of the Idea of Using Steroids
In today's world, the idea of using steroids was developed by the scientist Berthold. “The modern concept of hormone action through the blood was not established until Berthold’s experiments in 1849 with cockerels” (ROBERTS, B. 1998). In 1849, he conducted experiments on young cocks. After he removed the testicles of birds, cocks lost several features peculiar to males, including sexual function. Thus, in 1849, the world found out that sexual characteristics of men depend on the gonads. Berthold also detected the fact that if a castration was hold, and then testes are transplanted into the abdominal cavity, the sexual activity of the birds for the most part remains unchanged. After preparation of the birds, it became known that no neural connections were formed, but there was a set of capillaries. This fact proves conclusively that the male sex glands affect the blood, and Berthold concluded that blood exerts subsequently effect the whole body. Thus, it is considered that the anabolic steroids’ history started with routine experimentations.
Later on, in 1929, scientists tried to remove testosterone from the testicles of the bull, and in 1935, this was removed in more purified form. Testosterone was the first anabolic steroid and is still the basis of all anabolic steroids used today in the form of drugs. Initially, the testosterone was used for the health purposes. According to CESAR (n.d.), “In the 1930's, a team of scientists was able to create a synthetic form of testosterone (a male hormone) to help treat men who were unable to produce enough of the hormone for normal growth, development, and sexual functioning.” Later on, this hormone was used by malnourished soldiers in order to improve performance and gain weight during the war. After the war, the steroids were used by sportsmen so that they can enhance their performance in competitions.
In the early 1950s, a large number of drugs with reduced androgenic and increased anabolic properties were synthesized on the basis of testosterone.
b. The Idea of Using Steroids in Sport
The use of steroids in sport dates back to 1954. They were widely spread among Olympic weight lifters. Dianabol played a very important role in the popularity of steroids. These drugs were discovered in 1956 and were quickly spread not only among weight lifters, but also among the sportsmen of other sport areas. Its wide spread largely contributed to the development of bodybuilding. As during some time, the applications of scientists about the dangers of misuse of anabolic steroids were not taken seriously, 1970-80 were a period of steroid use in professional sports. However, in 1990, all types of anabolic steroids were classified by the Ministry of Health of America to the class of dangerous drugs and strict control over their use was established.
The idea of gaining power by steroids originated from ancient Greeks. Maisel (1965) states that “The idea of gaining power by steroids started since the ancient Greek which ate testicles from animals which were law before competitions to gain power and energy.” They did not know that testicles are rich in one of the most necessary ingredients for the growth of power and muscle mass.
The Original Purpose of Using Steroids
For the first time, synthetic steroids were used in medicine to treat burns, trauma, anemia, heart disease, etc. They were and are used now widely and successfully to treat muscular dystrophy and many other problems associated with rapid loss of muscle mass. In cases of surgical removal of the testicles, patients were prescribed oral anabolic steroids, through which it was possible to fill in testosterone levels in the blood and maintain secondary sexual characteristics. In addition, these drugs helped to solve the problems associated with the disorder of the pituitary gland in boys.
Anabolic steroids were also prescribed to patients undergoing chemotherapy or removing of the tumor. In this case, steroids combined with protein diet and exercises helped to restore muscle mass. Nowadays, steroids are used in medicine with the same purpose. “Doctors prescribe them to treat problems such as delayed puberty and other medical problems that cause the body to make very low amounts of testosterone.” (“Steroid effects: Abuse of anabolic steroids,” n.d.).
Anabolic steroids were also used to increase strength and muscle mass of horses.
Steroids on Olympic Games
Shortly before the prohibition of the using steroids during the Olympics, Germany has launched a program the aim of which was the synthesis of new steroids for German athletes involved in various kinds of sport. As stated in “History of steroids” (n.d.), “In Germany perhaps more so than any other country, anabolic steroid research and development was at its peak.” This study is still the most complete collection of data according to the using of steroids by athletes. Though the country was small in size, the Germans managed to regularly occupy the top step of the podium in many kinds of sport, competing on the number of medals with the Soviet Union and the USA, as in various World Championships and Olympics as well. In 1970s, a full-scale program of doping control began. Doping control is an important part of a comprehensive program of measures aimed at preventing the use of banned doping substances such as anabolic steroids, growth hormones and others. According to Franke and Berendonk (1997),
Since the mid-1970s, the use of androgenic steroids and other hormonal performance-enhancing drugs has been officially banned by sports authorities, and their usage has been controlled through analysis of urine samples taken at the time of competition, i.e., after drug withdrawal, a rather inefficient and insensitive method. (p. 1262)
The analysis showed positive results rarely. The International Olympic Committee was usually a step behind the athletes. By that time, the GDR has already experienced on their athletes the drugs based on testosterone, which quickly goes from the body.
German athletes were allowed to continue to use steroids, stopping only during doping control. Moreover, the German company that supplied government with steroids for athletes has developed a product which helped them to monitor hormone levels in the body, not stopping on steroids. Methods to use drugs that stimulate physical and nervous activity were so modern that German athletes were unnoticed for years. This lasted until 1989, when the Western media found out that the government hid and sponsored a program for the systematic use of anabolic steroids. In the early 1990s, the Germans finally were exposed and, as a result of scandal, anabolic steroids have finally acquired disrepute.
Stricter control of using steroids led to widespread testing of doctors, prescribers and, as a result, to more stringent punishment for the wrong prescription. The storage and distribution of steroids was considered a felony. The U.S. Congress added steroids to the "Controlled Substances Act". It is an amendment named as The Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 1990. “The Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 1990 added anabolic steroids to the federal schedule of controlled substances, thereby criminalizing their non-medical use by those seeking muscle growth for athletic or cosmetic enhancement” (Collins, 2005).
Steroids remained only in the media, sometimes appearing in cases of positive results of the test in athletes or statements about their use, but, in fact, this topic was missed from the field of view of journalists over the next ten years.
Some time later, after the record of baseball player Roger Maris was broken, some baseball players and many other athletes were suspected in taking anabolic steroids. However, Congress concluded that steroids are not dangerous.
Currently, using steroids by the sportsmen is not on the wane. As it was mentioned above, “… 6.6 percent of male 12th graders use or have used anabolic steroids.” (“Drug misuse: anabolic steroids and human growth hormone: report to the chairman, Committee on the Judiciary, U.S. Senate”). Moreover, this figure is increasing.
Thus, it is considered that the history of anabolic steroids has not ended, the point is not set; this history is written by doctors, scientists, athletes, and lawmakers every day.
The Side Effects of Using Steroids
Growth hormones and anabolic steroids misuse has a lot of side effects. It affects different organs (liver, kidney, cardiovascular system, immune system, etc). It also has such side effects as acne, lower HDL and higher LDL, baldness, high blood pressure, prostate enlargement and so on.
a. Reproductive System
Prolonged use of high doses of anabolic steroids leads to hypo gonadotrophic hypogonadism with low concentrations of luteinizing hormone in plasma. The use of steroids affects the concentration of gonadotropins in plasma. It is not secret that the use of steroids increases the concentration of testosterone and its derivatives in the body that actually "unbalance" the hormonal system. At the same time, receiving testosterone "outside" reduces its own secretion of this hormone. In its turn, a slight decrease of gonadotropins causes a decrease in sperm production and atrophy of the testicles. In this regard, the number of degenerate sperm increases, which reduces the capacity for fertilization. It may take up to several months for restoring these features after stopping treatment. “Men might also find that they are impotent and have a problem urinating” (Hooley, 2010).
The development of the female type of breasts (gynecomastia) is another side effect of using steroids. This is an accumulation of fatty tissues around the nipples. This, unfortunately, is prevalent side effect of steroid use that allows determining who is using or has used steroids without doping control.
In female anabolic steroid users the medical issues are quite different than that shown in men. Deepening of the voice, enlargement of the clitoris, decreased breast size; hirsutism and male pattern baldness are all clinical features common to hyperandrogenism in females.
The effects of taking anabolic steroids among women also lead to changes in the ovaries, menstrual irregularities, uterine atrophy, etc. Moreover, anabolic steroids misuse seriously affects fertility.
b. Cardiovascular System
Anabolic steroids enhance the risk of heart disease due to the fact that steroid use has a deleterious influence on the profile and level of the cholesterol. Hartgens (2004) states that the use of androgenic-anabolic steroids leads to the increased lipid profile. According to Glazer (1991), the heart of people who use anabolic steroids beats 4 times more than a normal heart. Increased pressure in many athletes who use steroids occurs both because of water retention in the body and the rapid increase in body weight. The initial symptoms of high blood pressure can be: headaches, insomnia, shortness of breath, etc. This condition may cause a gradual degeneration of blood vessels leading to the aneurysm, heart attacks and even progressive heart disease. It is no secret that chronically elevated blood pressure is a cause of many diseases of the cardiovascular system that kill most people on the planet.
Taking steroids leads to changes in the liver, kidneys, blood. Roberts (2003) states that “Most anabolic steroids which are ingested orally pass through the liver, which functions as the body?s filtration system. When something goes through the liver, it is broken down by various enzymes, and passed along into the bloodstream.” These changes can cause such disease as cancer. When using chemicals the body suffers from a strong stress on vital organs.
Increasing of the concentration of testosterone in the body can lead to increased aggression and increased sex drive, euphoria, irritability, sleep disorders, pathological anxiety, paranoia and hallucinations. These effects can often be stopped after the abolition of steroids. “Empirical studies in both animals and humans have shown an increase in aggression in both males and females exposed to anabolic steroids” (Eisenberg & Galloway, 2005). Some researchers believe that a sense of reduced fatigue, aggressiveness and euphoria provoked by taking steroids, force sportsmen to train more often and harder than those who do not use steroids. It is believed that this is the main cause of muscle gain for those who use steroids. High doses of steroids can alter human self-awareness and bring about changes in behavior. Users of steroids often feel frequent outbursts of irritation, desire to argue; they want to yell at someone, throw objects, beat, maim, generally cause harm to anyone. Personality changes associated with the abuse of anabolic steroids, lead ultimately to the violence and the desire to kill anyone. “Depression is a common side effect and can be so severe that it even leads to suicide. Steroid users often use other drugs to combat the many side effects that accompany the use of steroids, like depression” (Hooley, 2013).
e. Immune System
After a cycle of steroids, increased susceptibility to viral diseases, colds and pneumonia is observed. It is proved that steroids really weaken the immune system. The more pronounced this negative effect is in those whose intake cycle of "chemistry" was more than 10 weeks. It is known that an increase in the level of sex hormones in the body reduces the activity of the so-called T- suppressor immunity. In parallel, the function of B-cells increases. The appropriate changes during the immunological examinations in athletes were found. These changes threaten serious consequences from the development of immunodeficiency and decreased immunoreactivity of the organism to the most serious diseases.
f. Cosmetic Problems
There is a hypothesis that the human skin may destroy androgenic hormones with very small amounts. When using exogenous steroids, their concentration tends to rise above the level, and it allows the bacteria to multiply. When it is combined with the increased greasiness of the skin, which is inevitable with the use of steroids, occurrence of acne (acne vulgaris) is inevitable as well. “The most apparent side effects are the pores in the skin becoming larger making the skin rough.” (“Anabolic/androgenic steroids side effects,” n.d.).
Sodium retention causes Eden (swelling of tissues in force excess water retention). In most athletes, this is reflected in a slight increase in body volume and smoothing relief. Apart from this minor inconvenience, sodium and water retention as a result, may lead to acute episodes of high blood pressure. Sometimes, the water retention is a sign of hidden heart disease or kidney disease.
Effect of growth hormone may also cause tissue swelling, pain and carpal tunnel syndrome in the joints. However, one cannot but mention that side effects associated with the use of growth hormone occur less frequently than with the taking of anabolic steroids. HGH does not increase power performance and does not adversely affect the reproductive system.
Athletes take steroids in large quantities and often combine several different drugs. Combinations of drugs and the use of circuit cycles are very different depending on the characteristics of drugs. All information is passed mainly from athlete to athlete. Doses of steroids, which young athletes use today is at least 36% more than the dose of previous years. Anabolic steroids are mostly bought at “black markets”, which are counterfeit and are produced in clandestine laboratories. They look just like the real ones, but the active elements may be different. As with any drug, the higher dose of steroids is the greater likelihood of occurrence of side effects. In order to neutralize these effects, other drugs are applied. They are the estrogen blockers, diuretics, Gonadotropin, etc. The estrogen blockers prevent the development of breast tissue. Diuretics control the accumulation of water in the body. Gonadotropin is applied in order to prevent testicular atrophy. Each of these drugs has its side effects.
Analyzing the information mentioned above, it is clear that the issue of growth hormones and anabolic steroids misuse has to be solved immediately. In order to solve this problem, some preventative measures and programs have to be implemented. According to SAMSHA (2006):
Stopping AAS use reverses most physical and psychogical changes—but not all. Voice deepening and other signs of masculinization in females may be irreversible. Stunted growth in adolescents is often permanent. Organ system damage may be irreversible. Prolonged sexual side effects may require hormonal therapy by an endocrinologist. The client should be advised about and tested for blood-borne diseases.
Rehabilitation, owing to the termination of the taking anabolic steroids, demands intense treatment, which may last from several months to a year. Some alters in the organism of an athlete who used steroids are non-reversible. Avoiding taking the growth hormone and anabolic steroids, one protects himself or herself from passing after-treatment hormone therapy (it can be much more expensive), gynecomastia, organs’ damage and some other side effects. Many people are so eager to build muscle, burn fat and increase power, that they ignore the side effects. Gaining of natural muscle mass can take much longer, but it is worth it, so that the person does not have to constantly worry about side effects.