The Risks of Steroid Use Outweigh the Benefits

Kelsey Seybold Staff

 As an officer, you’re often reminded that being in good physical shape is necessary and makes your job easier. Sometimes this push for health is stressful and the desire to reach new physical heights can lead people to steroids.

While steroids may increase muscle strength, there are serious health risks associated with their use. In fact, the risks far outweigh the benefits, warns Richard Harris, M.D., Pharm.D., an Internal Medicine specialist at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic who enjoys weight lifting and pharmacology.

“Although there are occasions when doctors will prescribe certain forms of steroids to treat a medical condition – this isn’t what we’re discussing here. We’ll talk about anabolic steroids and Human Growth Hormone (HGH), which can only be obtained by prescription from a physician,” he said.

Danger Associated with Anabolic Steroid Use

Anabolic steroids are the type typically taken by athletes to help increase strength and endurance. And while people who take them usually notice an improvement in muscle mass and strength, there are several adverse side effects.

For one, this type of steroid use often leaves tendons open to injury. Physicians see tendon ruptures in patients who use steroids. Other issues include tendinitis, liver tumors, high blood pressure, heart problems, increased “bad” cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein), decreased “good” cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein), severe acne, aggressive behavior, baldness in both men and women, feelings of rage or violence and infections as a result of drug injections.

Depression and other psychiatric disorders have been reported as well.

“Men sometimes experience shrunken testicles, infertility, prominent breasts, impotence and enlargement of the prostate gland,” Dr. Harris said.

Conversely, women who use anabolic steroids are more likely to develop an increase in body hair, deeper voices and infrequent or absent periods.

For men and women, the use of anabolic steroids worsens medical conditions like sleep apnea and increases red blood cell counts.

Risks Tied to Human Growth Hormone (HGH)

HGH is sometimes taken to improve muscle mass and performance, but as with other anabolic steroids, it comes with serious health risks. In fact, illnesses like high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes are associated with HGH use, as well as joint pain, fluid retention, vision problems, muscle weakness and enlarged heart.

The bottom line is this: Staying in top physical condition means taking care of your entire body. While you may improve muscle mass or strength by using steroids, the stress that they put on things like your heart, joints and tendons doesn’t allow the total-package wellness that is necessary. The risks associated with taking steroids far outweigh the benefits.