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The hazards of injecting steroids to build muscles

Friday, Jun 28, 2013
Philippine Daily Inquirer/Asia News Network
By Dr. Joel SJ. Lopez

So you want to have those bulging muscles and to-die-for pectorals? And you think your personal trainer is heaven-sent because he's offering to inject you with a substance that will do just that?

Not quite. The gym owner may not know it. But your friendly personal trainer (or gym mate) may be doing you more harm than good. He's offering something that seems good at first blush, but is actually harmful to your health long-term.

The substance is called anabolic steroids (anabolic since they create tissue and steroids, since they're derived from the parent molecule, cholesterol). They can make men look more macho and appealing. They make the person look more manly by adding muscles-on the arms, the legs, and of course, the chest.

'Man boobs'

But these artificial steroids could turn into other metabolites such as estrogen. If you end up with "man boobs" or gynecomastia, prostate and cardiovascular problems, blame it on this forbidden substance actually turning into estrogen.

Besides this, unsupervised steroid hormone use could also lead to high blood sugar, "steroid psychosis" and pathologic fractures, among other conditions.

But that's not just the only side effect. These steroids could turn into metabolites such as DHT, which could cause acne, hair loss and prostate problems in men. This problem could take a few weeks, months or even years to crop up.

I've seen men in their late 30s or early 40s complain of andropause symptoms (fatigue, low libido, erectile dysfunction). Further investigation shows majority of them admit using anabolic steroid in their teens or early adulthood.

It messes up the entire HPG (hypothalamic, pituitary, gonadal) axis, leading to symptoms of testosterone deficiency at an early age.

I won't be surprised if some (a rare few) personal trainers (or even friends in the gym) never even bother to ask the doctor if that injectable steroid is safe. Gyms with doctors on call are few and far between.

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