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Muscles Now...Problems Later?

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Muscles Now...Problems Later?

Your lifelong dream of becoming Hulk Hogan is coming along slower than planned. You decide to speed the process up by doping on some creatine. But will you just be cutting yourself short in the long run?

Creatine is an amino acid produced naturally in the liver. Many athletes use this naturally occurring metabolite, found in red muscle tissue, as a way to store energy between bursts of activity. Creatine is normally obtained from foods we eat, the best sources being meat and fish, but if you don't do the meant thing you could always hit up your local drug store or fitness gym. Beef is the most creatine-dense food in the world, and the Babe ate a lot of steaks. He was doing a little creatine doping himself and nobody even knew it.

Athletes face enormous pressure to excel in their competition. They also know that winning cannot only earn them a gold medal, but money and fame along with it. Athletes know that training is their best bet to victory, but they also get the message that some drugs can boost their efforts and give them a short cut.

While most athletes use performance enhancing drugs to build their body mass, increase the delivery of oxygen to exercising tissues or to reduce weigh, others misuse the drugs to relax, cope with stress or to boost their own confidence. Performance enhancing drugs increase muscle strength by encouraging new muscle growth and they allow the athlete to train harder and longer at any given period, so they can pump up their bodies and their game. Some drugs, such as creatine, also permit damaged muscle tissue to work harder during therapy and rebuild itself to a normal state.

An athletic boost in short term may lead to health problems in the long run for athletes who use performance- enhancing drugs in the long run, warns a youth sports medicine specialist from the University of Michigan Health System. The same substances that athletes take to have more muscles, power and endurance may cause them to grow into shorter adults. It may even also cause them to take on some secondary physical characteristics of the opposite sex

More and younger athletes than ever before are imitating their professional sports heroes by using outlawed drugs and unproven supplements to pump up their bodies. Those physical features are most common among teenagers who use performance- enhancing drugs. That's because teen bodies, including tissues, bones, kidneys and livers, are still developing. So are teens muscles, though not at the pace some would like. Up to four percent of boys and two percent of girls turn to the same performance- enhancing drugs that their pro idols use, according to studies by a group of scientists at the University of Michigan.

With competitive pressure mounting to make the team, beat the competition, keep their weight down, win the medal or snag the college athletic scholarship, teens may even double or triple the suggested doses to get more results. Performance enhancers can cause teens growth plates, the flexible stretching regions in bones, to fuse solid at an accelerated pace- stunting their height prematurely.

Boys who take performance enhancers may gain weight and muscle rapidly, far faster than normal, changing their pre-puberty boyish body into a man's physique. Girls who used the drugs may be easier to spot, because their bodies will lose or perhaps not even develop the normal curves of a woman's body. Boys breasts



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