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Performance Enhancers

Published: April 30, 2013
Dear TeenHealthFX,

What are some other performance enhancers athlete's use?

Dear Performance Enhancers,

The use of performance enhancing drugs has continued to be a troubling problem over the years. It has become part of the sports culture form high school to professional athletes. Some people view it as cheating, but more importantly, most of these substances have no long term research on them in this capacity and there has been strong evidence that they can have a serious negative impact on your health. Nowhere is this more worrisome than with the adolescent athlete. Their bodies are still going through the growth process and can be especially vulnerable to substances that alter the body chemistry.

TeenHealthFX has focused on Steroids and Human Growth Hormones in the past. You can find that information on our site. While these seem to be the most talked about substances, here are some others that have been in the news recently that can also cause significant health problem:

Protein Hormones

Erythropoietin (EPO) is a naturally occurring protein hormone that is secreted by the kidneys and regulates how many red blood cells your body produces. EPO stimulates the bone marrow stem cells to make red blood cells, which increase the delivery of oxygen to the kidney. Endurance athletes, such as those who compete in marathons, cycling or cross-country skiing, can use EPO to increase their oxygen supply by as much as 7 to 10 percent. EPO is difficult to detect. The increased red cell density caused by EPO, however, can thicken the blood. The thickened blood does not flow through the blood vessels well. To pump the thickened blood, the heart must work harder, which increases the chances of heart attack and stroke.

Artificial Oxygen Carriers

Artificial oxygen carriers are man-made substances that are designed to aid in the transport of oxygen throughout the body. They can do the work of hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying protein in your blood. Doctors use them to treat breathing difficulties in premature infants, patients with severe lung injuries and deep-sea divers. It is not clear how they benefit athletes. Possible side effects include immune-system problems, cardiovascular problems, iron overload and kidney damage.

Blood Doping

Blood doping is the practice of infusing whole blood into an athlete in order to increase oxygen delivery to the tissues. A similar effect can be achieved by training at high altitudes. An athlete who infuses his own blood may cause infection or cardiovascular problems because of the increased blood volume (high blood pressure, blood clots, heart failure and stroke). An athlete who uses someone else's blood runs the risk of acquiring viral infections such as HIV and hepatitis.

If you are considering using any of these substances you really have to ask yourself, Is it worth it. Make no mistake about it: these drugs pose serious risks to your health and they can kill you. There are many other effective, healthier, and safer ways to improve sports performance, feel and look better, and improve your ability as an athlete without having to take such a gamble and risk your health and your life.


Signed: TeenHealthFX