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Steroid myths: Fact or fiction?

Last updated on: May 21, 2012 15:49 IST

Steroid myths: Fact or fiction?

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Courtesy LifeMojo.com

With use on the rise, it's important to uncover the truth behind steroids.

The Internet offers so many controversial concepts that we often get puzzled while plucking out the 'fact-flowers' from among the 'bushy' myths! We remain in a dilemma and sometimes we even tend to adapt the wrong concepts. We then perform the "moral" duty of passing over our "precious" possessions to our acquaintances. This is how a myth spreads! Surprisingly, some of the people who spread myths are themselves doubtful about what they say. And a myth emerges as a hot topic when it involves controversial topics like steroid use or abuse.

The topic on steriod use seems to have taken a front seat nowadays, with many teenagers or guys-next-door resorting to an increased use of it. Bodybuilding and consequently steroid use have no longer remained the choice of celebrities and professional bodybuilders alone. And controversial views are on the rise, with some websites claiming the 'innocence' of steroids while others portray them as perfectly evil. Here is what we often hear about steroids -- and the truth behind these false statements.

Myth 1: Steroids are absolutely safe

Fact: The younger the user is, the greater the health risk of steroid administration. Women who take steroids may experience side effects like facial hair growth and loss of feminine characteristics. Men may experience breast growth. Early fusion of growing bones, stunted growth, liver cancers, hepatitis, heart disease, rise in the blood cholesterol and blood sugar levels and increase of blood pressure, fluid retention, epileptic fits, virilisation, strokes and even heart attacks are possible side effects of steroid use.

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Myth 2: All steroids are of one type and have similar effects

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Fact: Steroids can be anabolic or androgenic. Anabolic steroids help in the growth of the skeletal and muscle tissue, whereas the androgenic steroids deal with secondary male sex traits such as hair growth, sex drive and sperm health.

Corticosteroids form another category of steroids. These are used to treat inflammatory diseases like arthritis and are also deployed to battle asthma and certain extreme cases of allergies.


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Myth 3: Steroids help in gaining muscle and skeletal tissue, so they cannot stunt your growth

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Fact: Some forms of steroids have the capacity of getting converted into estrogen, the female hormone. These synthetic steroids convince the platelets to seal off much earlier than usual, leaving a youngster permanently stunted. Teenagers who take steroids in the growth phase are exposed to a risk of stunted height and they may not be able to reach their natural height.


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Myth 4: Only bodybuilders are into taking steroids

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Fact: Today, steroid use is not limited to the bodybuilders alone. Many college-going teenagers take steroidal supplements without any prescription, just to get noticed among their friends, by their sport coaches or to draw the attention and admiration of women. It's a human tendency to seek attention and recognition from others. Even women who are into sports take steroids for better performance. Gymnasts, basketball players and women involved in other sports may take these supplements many times, so as to gain better endurance and strength and boost their performance levels.


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Myth 5: I can stop taking steroids whenever I want, without getting addicted to them

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Fact: Any person who has been taking steroidal supplements for a long time may face withdrawal symptoms ranging from fatigue, mood swings, reduced sex drive, restlessness and insomnia to a desire to take more steroids if the supplement is discontinued. This may force an individual to keep taking the supplements. The individual may experience a quick loss of muscle size, physical strength and mild depression. These symptoms may continue for around a year after the withdrawal (depending upon the total amount of dosage taken). He may become weak-willed and start taking the supplements again, just to get rid of the withdrawal symptoms.


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Myth 6: Steroids cannot damage heart health if taken in small doses over a long period of time

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Fact: Steroids may cause sudden weight gain and anincrease in the water content of the body, which exert pressure on the heart. It decreases your HDL (good cholesterol) and increases the LDL (bad cholesterol) levels, thus contributing to the rise in blood cholesterol indirectly. Recent research also shows that the prolonged use of steroids leads to a rise in the homocysteine levels of the blood, which further raises the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Myths are dangerous if you misconstrue the negative aspects as positive ones. It is a good idea to accept all the negatives in their positive forms, but this holds true from a motivational point of view. You cannot think of steroids as extremely beneficial or harmless to your health. A fact is a fact and it will remain the same!


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