How Do Steroids Benefit Athletes?
When we think about steroids and athletes in the same vein, the word that invariably hits our minds is ‘scandal’. A scandal is basically some athletes risking their employment, freedom and health to acquire some competitive edge on the field. These risks usually seem worth when you consider the big financial rewards associated with winning a competitive event. Typically, using performance-enhancing drugs are covert or not openly acknowledged. Therefore, solid research exhibiting anabolic steroids’ effects on athletes is hard to find or study. Yet, one cannot deny the fact that testosterone treatments help with increasing muscle strength, healing rate and body size. However, these benefits are linked with long-term and short-term risks.
Enhanced Muscle Strength
Both anecdotally and scientifically, it is fairly well known that steroid use helps with improved muscle strength. A 2007 study clearly illustrates this impact of performance enhancement drugs. According to the research’s authors, testosterone enanthate, which is the most abused and also commonly used testosterone form, improved cycling and bench strength performance in healthy individuals when compared to placebo. Prior research had concluded that such results were usually obtained when on steroid treatments that lasted six to 12 weeks. Despite previous claims, these researchers were able to demonstrate similar effects within just three weeks. Long story short, steroids can quickly enhance muscle strength.
Improved Body Size
The same study also exhibited steroids helping increase body size. A good amount of research, in fact, supports that discovery. A 2009 study, for example, typifies such studies. Testosterone enanthate’s effects with regard to healthy weight training was also found by latter authors. Testosterone substantially increased body weight, quadricep circumference and bicep girth. The study also exhibited increased abdominal tightness. This particular discovery, however, is a bit on the unusual side as steroids are not known for their fat-reducing abilities.
Improved Healing Rate
Another recorded study exhibited steroids’ positive impact on rate of healing. The steroid scandals that involve professional athletes comprise recurring references to usage of performance-enhancing drugs that quicken recovery. Unfortunately, only a few studies have successfully tested such effects in healthy subjects. However, there is a fairly decent repository of steroid information in subjects that have undergone trauma, which includes people who’ve experienced injuries and burns. A 2009 study exhibited oxandrolone (which is testosterone’s synthetic derivative) increasing muscle strength, helping build lean body mass, and positively impacting body weight of patients who had severe thermal injuries.
Steroids Increase Risk
It would be truly irresponsible to describe steroids’ benefits without talking about the risks there are to them. According to an independent 2004 study, testosterone was found to increase unwanted aggression and libido, along with disfiguring hair and acne. These performance enhancement drugs also modified the internal hormonal environment of people who used steroids for a prolonged period of time. However, the biggest concern of them all was anabolic steroids’ adverse cardiac effects. Exogenous testosterone spiked resting or normal blood pressure and brought down good cholesterol levels in the body. Moreover, steroids altered heart function and structure too.