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Anabolic Steroids

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How Many Teens Use Them?

Most teens are smart and stay away from steroids. As part of a 2002 NIDA-funded study, teens were asked if they ever tried steroids-even once. Only 2.5% of 8th graders ever tried steroids; only 3.5% of 10th graders; and 4% of 12th graders.

What Are the Common Effects?

Steroids can make pimples pop up and hair fall out. They can make guys grow breasts and girls grow beards. Steroids can cause livers to grow tumors and hearts to clog up. They can even send users on violent, angry rampages. In other words, steroids throw a body way out of whack. Steroids do make users bulk up, but the health risks are high. It's true, on steroids biceps bulge; abs ripple; and quads balloon. But that's just on the outside. Steroid users may be very pleased when they flex in the mirror, but they may create problems on the inside. These problems may hurt them the rest of their lives. As a matter of fact steroid use can shorten their lives.

Steroids Cause Hormone Imbalances

For teens, hormone balance is important. Hormones are involved in the development of a girl's feminine traits and a boy's masculine traits. When someone abuses steroids, gender mix-ups happen.

Using steroids, guys can experience shrunken testicles and reduced sperm count. They can also end up with breasts, a condition called gynecomastia.

Using steroids, girls can become more masculine. Their voices deepen. They grow excessive body hair. Their breast size decreases.

Teens at Risk for Stunted Growth

Teens who abuse steroids before the typical adolescent growth spurt risk staying short and never reaching their full adult height. Why? Because the body is programmed to stop growing after puberty. When hormone levels reach a certain point, the body thinks it's already gone through puberty. So, bones get the message to stop growing way too soon.

Steroid Abuse Can Be Fatal

When steroids get into the body, they go to different organs and muscles. Steroids affect individual cells and make them create proteins. These proteins spell trouble.

The liver, for example, can grow tumors and develop cancer. Steroid abusers may also develop a rare condition called peliosis hepatis in which blood-filled cysts crop up on the liver. Both the tumors and cysts can rupture and cause internal bleeding.

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