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Sports Supplements: What Are The Risks?
Rochester MN, 7 June 2002

In recent days, news of steroid use by professional baseball players made headlines across the country and around the world. The Fitness and Sports Medicine Center at MayoClinic.com offers insight into performance-enhancing products, both drugs and supplements: how they work, how they affect the body and the dangers they pose to a user's overall health. Visit www.mayoclinic.com/invoke.cfm?id=SM00038, or go to their home page and click on Healthy Living Center.

Efforts to enhance performance are nothing new in competitive sports. Hundreds of years ago athletes ate special meals of meat and honey in preparation for important events. For some athletes today, vitamins, supplements such as creatine, and even illegal drugs are as much a part of their diet as fruits and grains. Some products do little to improve performance, while others help athletes achieve remarkable results. Some carry the risk of major side effects such as heart and liver damage, endocrine-system imbalance, elevated cholesterol levels, strokes, heightened aggression and genitalia dysfunction.

Drugs and supplements -- what's allowed? The terms banned drug and banned substance refer to chemicals that are prohibited for use during athletic training and competition. Your body naturally produces some of these compounds, such as testosterone and growth hormone, in small amounts. Other compounds, including some anabolic steroids, are created only in the lab. MayoClinic.com provides a detailed account of these substances, effects and side effects and the varying rules of national athletic organizations about performance-enhancing substances.

To make things complicated, different sport organizations ban different substances, if they ban anything at all. For example, Major League Baseball has not banned such performance-enhancing substances as androstenedione or steroids. When Mark McGwire used the supplement androstenedione when he set a home run record in 1998, he received no penalty, even though the human body rapidly converts this compound to testosterone, which builds muscle mass. The International Olympic Committee (IOC), National Football League (NFL), National Basketball Association (NBA) and National Collegiate Athletic Association all prohibit use of androstenedione. The NFL, NBA and IOC prohibit steroids and test for them. The National Hockey League and Major League Baseball have no policy regarding steroid use.

MayoClinic.com describes itself as a source of reliable health information on topics from cancer to quitting smoking, healthy traveling and first aid. This site is produced as part of Mayo's commitment to serve as a dependable source of health information for the public.


MayoClinic.com, via PR Newswire.end-of-story




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