Arnold-SchwarzeneggerThe six-pack abs of actors Salman Khan and John Abraham can send many adolescents to the gym for a sculpted body. But for those who take the short cut through steroids, here is a word of caution. Their use can lead to serious problems like impotency, baldness and suicidal tendencies, say experts.

The perfect bodies of actors is achieved after a lot of labour, systematic exercising, discipline and diet, but every youngster does not have the patience to follow this arduous procedure and resorts to steroids.

Bindu Sthalekar, consultant dermatologist and cosmetologist, told IANS that “the most important fact about steroids is that they are drugs and any misuse or abuse can harm the body”.

“Steroids are derivatives of male hormones, primarily testosterone. The use of these steroids among teenagers may result in the shrinking of testes, decrease in the sperm count, which in turn leads to infertility,” he added.

Andro, primobolan, decadurobolin, clenbuterol and clen are some of the drugs that pump up muscles. Most of them are taken in oral or injection form.

“Every person wants to be a centre of attraction…even guys are becoming conscious about their looks. However, due to lack of time, we are unable to spend some time on ourselves. Therefore we go for artificial treatments to get fast and effective results. Also, they are less expensive compared to surgeries,” said a 22-year-old man who works with a PR firm.

Doctors say steroid use has become rampant because these injections do not cost a bomb and are easily available. They are priced between Rs.80 and Rs.300 for vials and can be bought at medical stores or even online.

The question is what do these injections do?

Indu Tolani, a dermatologist, explains that steroids involve drug receptors.

“Steroids help in producing proteins and preventing the effects of cortisol in muscle tissues resulting in an improved muscle mass. Gradually the muscles turn into biceps, triceps and six pack abs. They become three times bigger than its original size,” she added.

There are specific doses for specific injections. Some need to be injected on a weekly basis.

There are positives to such treatments. For instance, steroids are recommended by doctors to increase the appetite and sometimes they help in stimulating muscle mass in chronic wasting conditions like cancer and AIDS.

But their side effects can be disastrous.

“Excess or long-term use of drugs can lead to health problems such as increase of cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, enlargement of heart, aggressive behaviour, acne and depression. Oral consumption can damage the liver as well,” said Tolani.

Sthalekar says misuse and abuse of such drugs can affect the growth cycle.

“Changes like baldness, testosterone stimulation, acne due to sebaceous gland enlargement and long-term suppression of natural testosterone are some of the side effects of these steroids,” she said.

Teenagers should avoid such drugs, advises Sthalekar.

“Among adolescents its consumption may cause stunted growth due to premature closure of epiphysis, Dsex drive or even infertility. In the case of girls, the use of steroids might affect the menstrual cycle. On withdrawal, they might experience symptoms of depression and it can turn to suicidal tendencies also,” she added.

Medical practitioner Radha Narayanan says youth should be aware of the effects of steroids.

“If steroids are taken in the right quantity as prescribed by the doctor, they give fabulous results. The young generation is highly conscious about its looks…for them looking great on public domains like social networking sites is important and these steroids give them a chance to look attractive,” she said.

Listing out precautions, she said: “Such cosmetic treatments should be used under proper medical supervision. Before starting the procedure, candidates must go for medical checkups like blood and sugar level tests.

“During the procedure one should take a well-balanced diet with a high protein level, eat natural and healthy food and exercise under experts to achieve the best results.”

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