Pumped Up

The Downside.

A lot of hard work, practice and dedication can help you sculpt a well-muscled body, but anabolic steroids will get you there a lot faster, but at what cost?

To help sort speculation from fact about the side effects, Clarkson University Assistant Professor of Physical Therapy & Physician Assistant Studies Ali Boolani and two of his students have just published an opinion paper in Medical Research Archives. The short side of the long story of their research-based conclusion is: Don’t use steroids.

“It’s a hot topic, but we can’t do clinically-based steroid research. It’s illegal and unethical,” says Boolani. “We started this project last summer to explore what’s known on side effects, and my students spent hundreds of hours each sifting through current information. They did a great job.”

The allure of a bigger, stronger, faster body is as enticing as the huge paychecks professional athletes can command, but the use of anabolic-androgenic steroids (synthetic testosterone) also creates some powerful and contradictory conditions, according to Boolani and students Britni R. Keitz and Holly S. Bronson.

Side effects include: acne, increased body hair, aggressive behavior, fluid retention, elevated blood pressure, sleeplessness, increased irritability, feelings of low libido, increased sex drive, increased appetite, sweating, increased feeling of well-being, depressive mood states, loss of head hair, and gynaecomastia (enlarged breast tissue in men).

Keitz, a student in the doctor of physical therapy program, worked with Bronson, a senior pre-physical therapy honours student majoring in psychology, to update all the sources in an initial draft of the opinion paper. They reviewed literature, evaluated sources, and checked with publishing requirements for professional journals.

“I found a lot more new research, so I added it and tried to get two sides of the issue but there’s a lot of inconsistent data. Much of the information on steroid use is from questionnaires,” Keitz says. “I found it amazing, though, what psychological changes the studies report, viz. depression and homicidal feelings.”

Bronson adds, “It’s sad to risk your health to get ahead. This research can help open people’s eyes to the negative effects of steroids so they can make an informed decision before they take anything.”

After all their research, now the Clarkson students and their professor have added to reference material for others. Their paper, “The Effects of Anabolic Androgenic Steroids on Performance and its Adverse Side Effects in Athletes” is published in Issue 1, 2015, of Medical Research Archives.


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