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Anabolic Steroids

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.

Steroids are no friend of the heart, either. Abusing steroids can cause heart attacks and strokes, even in young athletes. Here's how: Steroid use can lead to a condition called atherosclerosis, which causes fat deposits inside arteries to disrupt blood flow. When blood flow to the heart is blocked, a heart attack can occur. If blood flow to the brain is blocked, a stroke can result.

To bulk up the artificial way-using steroids-puts teens at risk for more than liver disease and cardiovascular disease. Steroids can weaken the immune system, which is what helps the body fight against germs and disease. That means that illnesses and diseases have an easy target in a steroid abuser.

By injecting steroids by needle, teens can add HIV and hepatitis B and C to their list of health hazards. Many abusers share non-sterile "works" or drug injection equipment that can spread life-threatening viral infections.

Steroids Can Cause Extreme Mood Changes

Steroids can also mess with your head. Homicidal rage can come from how steroids act on the brain. That's right. Non-violent people have been known to commit murder under the influence of these synthetic hormones.

Your moods and emotions are balanced by the limbic system of your brain. Steroids act on the limbic system and may cause irritability and mild depression. Eventually, steroids can cause mania, delusions, and violent aggression or "roid rage."

Steroids' Disfiguring Effects

Last, but not least, steroids have disfiguring effects-severe acne, greasy hair, and baldness (in both guys and girls).

The bottom line is: Science proves the serious risks of steroid use.

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WebMD Public Information from the U.S. National Institutes of Health

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