What are the Dangers of Using Performance-Enhancing Drugs?

The dangers of using performance-enhancing drugs are well documented. Athletes who continuously seek to be the best and gain an edge may resort to these drugs will little or no regard for the dangers associated with them. Dangers can include changes in body composition, damage to the various organs and systems of the human body, and the development of mental disorders.
In the competitive sports arena, performance-enhancing drugs are a prevalent issue. Athletes are tested regularly for performance-enhancing drugs for their safety and to keep the playing field level for all participants. Those found violating league policy may receive sanctions or penalties.
Different types of performance-enhancing drugs exist, all with their own risks. Some of these drugs may provide short-term benefits, but long-term damage has been reported. Examples include anabolic steroids, human growth hormone, erythropoietin, and other supplements.
Anabolic steroids are often used as a way to build muscle and increase strength. They are a synthetic form of testosterone, a steroid hormone naturally produced by the human body, and available in pill and as injections. The risks associated with anabolic steroid use in men include breast development, infertility, and hair loss. Women who choose to take anabolic steroids may experience a deepening of the voice and an increase in body hair. Both sexes can experience severe acne, hypertension, heart trouble, and an increase in aggressive behavior, such as rage.
Human growth hormone is also used to gain muscle mass. Known as gonadotropin, human growth hormone is typically administered by injection. The risks associated with taking it as a performance-enhancing drug include joint pain, fluid retention, cardiomyopathy, and muscle weakness.
Another type of performance-enhancing drugs, erythropoietin, is more common among endurance athletes than those looking to build muscle mass. The hormone fuels the production of red blood cells and helps improve the amount of oxygen available to the muscles during activity. Typically, the drug is prescribed to help treat severe kidney disease in those with anemia. Used as a performance-enhancing drug the risks include stroke, pulmonary edema, and heart attack.
Athletes may find other ways to enhance performance. This includes taking nutritional supplements and over-the-counter drugs in excess or for reasons other than intended. Several common drugs used by athletes as performance-enhancers include diuretics and creatine. Diuretics can help athletes quickly lose weight, but the risks include dizziness, heart arrhythmias, and even death. Creatine helps provide a burst of energy but can lead to stomach cramps, diarrhea, and weight gain.

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