Updated: Jun 18, 2022
By Jamie Li
April 10, 2022
UPDATED 12:00 PM EST
[Photo Credit: Healthline]
Doping is an illegal practice within sports, where participants take banned substances to improve their performance. With the rise of scandals in the sporting realm, notably Kamila Valieva, a fifteen-year-old who tested positive for trimetazidine in the Olympics, doping is in the spotlight again. The reason why certain drugs are banned at competitive sporting events is because it ruins the integrity of the sport and because of their adverse health effects. Learn more about performance enhancing drugs (PEDs), specifically anabolic steroids and why young people are especially susceptible to these drugs.
One of the most common drugs is anabolic-androgenic steroids. Steroids are a synthetic form of testosterone, a hormone produced by men and women. Steroids can increase muscle mass and lean body weight, enhance recovery from workouts and increase muscle endurance. They are often used in sports based on strength, such as weight lifting, football and baseball. However, as with all PEDs, they have negative health consequences. Side effects of steroids are increased risk of heart disease, which leads to heart attacks and death. Steroids can cause infertility, swollen male breast tissue, liver damage, organ enlargement and stunted growth. There are psychological effects, as anabolic steroids cause more aggressive behavior and affect body image. Steroids increase muscle mass but can cause extreme negative health consequences.
Even though there are extreme health consequences for steroids, the use of steroids within teens is high. Out of U.S. high school students, 4.9% of men and 2.4% of women have used anabolic steroids at least once, which is 375,000 men and 175,000 women. If the use of anabolic steroids is so damaging, why are people, especially young people, using them? Adolescents’ brains are underdeveloped, which leads to a lack of ability to think long-term. Many teens may fail to consider or even recognize the health impacts when thinking of the short-term benefits of PEDs. Young people are likely to have lower self-esteem and body image, which leads them to take PEDs for increased muscularity. Education towards the negative consequences of PEDs should be a focus in schools and gyms so that teenagers understand the health risks. Moreover, our standards of beauty and masculinity must be evaluated and adjusted so that young people never feel the need to use PEDs.
Steroids are used to build muscle and strength but can have dire impacts on physical health. PEDs and steroid use among young people is a growing concern. Preventive aspects such as education and changing our society's standard of beauty should be a priority. When a fifteen-year-old is found doping at the Olympics, what kind of message does that send to other young people?
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