The Steriod Story

By Laura Bonetta

They come as pills or liquids by the names of Anadrol, Winstrol, or DHEA and carry with them the promise of a lean body and bigger muscles. But not without paying a hefty price.

Anabolic steroids, the popular name of synthetic substances related to the male hormone testosterone, are useful drugs that doctors prescribe to treat debilitating diseases. But increasingly, they are being abused by healthy people to improve athletic performance and appearance. One of the biggest scandals in recent sports history erupted in 1998, when Mark McGwire -- first baseman for the St. Louis Cardinals and an acclaimed home-run king -- admitted he used androstenedione to enhance his performance on the field.

McGwire's muscular arms may have impressed many fans, but anabolic steroids don't act on muscle size alone. They have several unhealthy and potentially damaging side effects -- especially when taken in high doses and for long periods. The rising use of anabolic steroids by teens and children is especially troubling to experts, as developing bodies may be even more sensitive to the drugs' harmful effects. Scientists are just now beginning to understand what these effects might be. 

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