Dominic has baseball on the brain. Just being good isn’t enough — he wants to be the best. He dreams of playing in the majors someday, but worries about the intense competition for a position on a major league team. His girlfriend, Deborah, is also a highly competitive athlete whose appearance and performance are very important to her. She wants to stand out — both physically and athletically.
Because of the pressure they each feel to excel, Dominic and Deborah wonder whether steroids would help them. They’ve heard rumors about the bad side effects of steroids, but they don’t have many facts. Here’s the scoop on steroids.
What Are Steroids?
Steroids, sometimes referred to as “roids” or “juice” are the same as, or similar to, certain hormones in the body. The body produces steroids naturally to support such functions as fighting stress and promoting growth and development. But some people use steroid pills, gels, creams, or injections because they think steroids can improve their sports performance or the way they look.
Anabolic steroids are artificially produced hormones that are the same as, or similar to, androgens, the male-type sex hormones in the body. There are more than 100 variations of anabolic steroids. The most powerful androgen is testosterone (pronounced: tess-TOSS-tuh-rone). Although testosterone is mainly a mature male hormone, girls’ bodies produce smaller amounts. Testosterone helps build muscle and promotes the masculine traits that guys develop during puberty, such as deepening of the voice and growth of body hair. Testosterone levels can also affect how aggressive a person is.
Athletes sometimes take anabolic steroids because of their testosterone-like effects.
Another group of steroids, sometimes called steroidal supplements, contains dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and/or androstenedione (also known as andro). For the most part, steroidal supplements, which used to be found at health food stores or gyms, are now illegal and require a prescription. DHEA is one of the few exceptions and can still be bought over the counter.
Steroid supplements are weaker forms of androgen. Their effects aren’t well known, but it’s thought that, when taken in large doses, they cause effects similar to other androgens like testosterone. Here’s what is known about steroidal supplements: Companies that manufacture them often use false claims and very little is known about the long-term effects some of these substances have on the body. That’s one reason why the government took action to protect citizens by passing laws controlling steroid distribution.