Drug dealers are peddling steroids on Facebook and YouTube

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The sale of illicit wares across social media platforms is raising questions about how well the companies are policing their sites.

September 16 at 6:00 AM

Drug dealers are turning to Facebook and other popular social media sites to peddle steroids, which are illegal without a prescription, raising more questions about whether the companies are properly policing their platforms.

Those substances are being aggressively sold or marketed through posts and videos on sites including Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter, according to new research by Internet safety nonprofit group Digital Citizens Alliance and cyberintelligence firm GiPEC. During the first half of the year, the researchers say they found more than 100 examples of such pages or posts.

Pages, groups and videos pushing steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs could be found through searching for keywords like Human Growth Hormone or Humatrope. Once users land on one of those pages, dealers push using the drugs and may include a way to contact them, like an email address or WhatsApp number.

Even as recently as this week, more than a dozen Facebook pages, YouTube videos and an Instagram account were selling or promoting prescription steroids and other appearance enhancing drugs. After a Washington Post inquiry, the social media companies removed the pages and posts for violating their terms of service, which prohibit illegal drug sales.

The posts turn devices into drug dealers, said Tom Galvin, Digital Citizens Alliance executive director. “Parents should know that,” he said. Their kids are “gaining access to this online on sites that are mainstream.”

The sale of these types of drugs is just the latest example of harmful and illicit content proliferating on social networks. Disinformation, hate speech and illegal sales continue to plague the sites, despite efforts to better moderate content both with thousands of humans and improved algorithms.

Amazon and Google recently were selling firearm and gun accessories on their sites in apparent violation of their own policies. YouTube, Facebook and Twitter played Whac-a-Mole after the Christchurch shooting in New Zealand, when the shooter’s video surfaced and was disseminated across the Web. And Twitter, Facebook and YouTube recently said they removed hundreds of accounts that appeared to be a concerted Chinese effort at spreading political discord regarding protests in Hong Kong.

That has led some industry critics to question whether the companies are doing enough.

“The model of moderation that platforms use is structurally inadequate to the task,” said Roger McNamee, a Facebook investor who has become one of the most prominent critics of Big Tech. “It appears that the moderation is not actually designed to eliminate those things, it’s designed to eliminate the political blowback.”

Facebook, which also owns Instagram, said it removes content that violates its policies as it finds them. “Our Community Standards make it very clear that buying, selling or trading drugs, which include steroids, is not allowed anywhere on Pages, in advertising, or anywhere else on Facebook,” said Facebook spokeswoman Crystal Davis.

YouTube said it removed 90,000 videos for violating its “harmful or dangerous policy” in the second quarter of 2019, and the company works closely with experts, including emergency room doctors and pediatricians, to develop its policies. “We’ve been investing in the policies, resources and products needed to live up to our responsibility and protect the YouTube community from harmful content,” YouTube spokesman Farshad Shadloo said.

Twitter spokeswoman Katie Rosborough pointed to the company’s existing policies, which state Twitter can’t be used for “any unlawful purpose or in furtherance of illegal activities.”

Steroids have previously surfaced as a social media problem. Digital Citizens Alliance first researched the issue in 2013, finding that steroids were being sold on YouTube. Immediately following the report, it appeared the company cracked down. (DCA receives funding from telecommunications, pharmaceutical and tech organizations, as well as some members of the Motion Picture Association of America.)

YouTube, which is part of Google, said it has taken a number of steps to reduce the spread of “borderline content and videos” on its site in recent years.

The researchers, including Eric Feinberg, the chief executive of New York-based GiPEC, decided to revisit the topic after noticing last year that steroids continued to be sold on the platforms. “They continue to turn a blind eye,” he said.

In some cases, the content surfaced to researchers as “Suggested Pages” or “Recommended Videos” they might like due to their searches. While YouTube has recently launched features attempting to reduce illicit content, it only works on English-speaking videos. The researchers found suggested steroid videos alongside videos in foreign languages like Arabic, according to screen shots reviewed by The Post.

In one example, a Facebook page called “Landmarkchem Raw steroid powders, HGH, peptides & semi-finished for sale” offered a variety of steroids via Facebook’s “shop” function, which is intended to help merchants sell products. The button directed people to the Facebook page of “Lucky Li,” whose email address and Skype name were also listed on the page.

The researchers contacted Landmark through an email address found on Facebook, and they were offered a wide range of drugs that are supposed to require a prescription, according to emails reviewed by The Post. The emails also gave instructions for administering the drugs.

The researchers purchased two vials labeled Human Growth Hormone, a substance that is often abused to enhance muscle mass or athletic performance, and three vials of an anabolic steroid known as Deca Durabolin, which is only available with a prescription due to potential side effects such as liver damage. The researcher paid about $360 for the drugs via the PayPal-owned platform Venmo. (Such a transaction violates Venmo’s terms of service.)

Drug testing showed that the Deca Durabolin appeared to be legitimate, but the HGH was not — leaving questions about what they were sold.

Steroids can be used to enhance appearance as well as athletic performance.

“It seems like a cruel irony that the same platforms that are fueling a desire to look like celebrities in the social media age are also the platforms that people turn to reshape their body to look like celebrities,” Galvin said.

Advocates against steroid abuse are calling on the tech companies to do more to stamp out the sales on their platforms.

Donald Hooton Sr., the executive chairman of the Taylor Hooton Foundation, fights steroid abuse in memory of his son. The new research illustrates just how much the issue of steroid abuse has evolved, he said. His son Taylor, a successful high school student athlete whose death was linked to steroid abuse more than 15 years ago, found his dealer while working out at the local YMCA.

Hooton Sr. said he was concerned that parents don’t realize such sales could now be happening on their children’s devices, and he called on the tech giants to do more.

“There is no doubt in my mind that they’ve got the capability, engineering skills and the wherewithal to get this crap stopped, to prevent this from going on their platform,” he added.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2019/09/16/drug-dealers-are-peddling-steroids-facebook-youtube/?noredirect=on 

STATEMENT BY DON HOOTON re: Digital Citizens Alliance Report on Digital Platforms Enabling the Sale of Illegal Appearance and Performance-Enhancing Drugs

Image result for taylor hooton foundation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Monday, September 16, 2019

 

STATEMENT BY DON HOOTON

Founder and Executive Chairman, Taylor Hooton Foundation

RE: Digital Citizens Alliance Report on Digital Platforms Enabling

the Sale of Illegal Appearance and Performance-Enhancing Drugs

 

“This is a bone-chilling report and should serve as a call to action for these popular digital platforms that the advertising and sale of these extremely dangerous and illegal substances on their sites must stop. It’s time for these digital platforms, like Facebook and Google, to stop turning a blind eye and to stop allowing, even enabling, drug dealers to conduct business on their sites. Appearance and Performance Enhancing Substances carry serious health risks that can have significant harmful implications for athletes and non-athletes alike, including heart attacks, kidney and liver damage, severe depression, and even death.”

—-

The six-month Digital Citizens Alliance (DCA) investigation and its ensuing report found that companies distributing the illegal substances advertised by using various social media sites to reach their often underage target audience, with no age-related barriers in place to prohibit youth from purchasing the substances.

 

The Taylor Hooton Foundation works every day to educate young people and adult influencers on the serious health risks associated with using Appearance and Performance Enhancing Substances. The Foundation conducts educational assemblies primarily at middle school, high school and college campuses—as well as at all 30 MLB ballparks with the full support of Major League Baseball—that teach students and adults about the dangers of using Appearance and Performance Enhancing Substances, including anabolic steroids, Human Growth Hormone (HGH), unregulated dietary supplements and others.

The Taylor Hooton Foundation hopes that this report serves as a “call to action” and also ignites new conversations about how to educate young people about the dangers associated with these substances and how to keep them safe online.

To view the full DCA Steroids Report, please visit (click here).

CONTACT:   Rick Cerrone / Rick Cerrone Communications

rick@rickcerrone.com

 

Facebook and Google Offer Haven for Sale of Illegal Appearance and Performance Enhancing Drugs, Investigation Finds

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Published Sunday, September 15, 2019

Drug Dealers Advertise and Sell Illegal Drugs as Online Platforms Ignore

WASHINGTON, September 15, 2019 — Americans who rely on illegal and potentially dangerous appearance and performance enhancing drugs to improve their physical appearance or step up their athletic performance are aided by three unlikely partners – drug dealers, Facebook and Google — according to a Digital Citizens Alliance (DCA) / Global Intellectual Property Enforcement Center Worldwide (GIPEC) investigation.

The report – “Digital Platforms on Steroids” – presents the results of a six-month investigation that shows that millions of Americans have resorted to the use of appearance and performance enhancing drugs (APEDs), aided by drug dealers who advertise the sale of anabolic steroids and human growth hormone online while digital platforms seemingly turn a blind eye.

The investigation looked at the scope of use of APEDs and the ease of buying them from online suppliers. A Digital Citizens research survey found that 1 in 10 Americans reported using the drugs at one time. As part of its inquiry, DCA purchased drugs from a China-based dealer who promoted them on Facebook. After professional testing of the samples, one was in fact an anabolic steroid while another labeled as human growth hormone (HGH) was fake.

“Thanks to Facebook and Google, a teen’s drug supplier is located in their phone, tablet or computer,”said Tom Galvin, executive director of DCA. “Digital platforms seem to only take down illegal and/or illicit content when it becomes a PR problem, not for the good of their users. Whether a street corner or an online site, criminals tend to go where it’s easiest. And the proliferation of APEDs is being made easier by the unwillingness of digital platforms to take the issue seriously.”

This is the second time that Digital Citizens has found APEDs for sale on social media platforms. A 2013 DCA report on YouTube videos pushing and demonstrating APED usage led to the take down of dozens those videos.

“It is disappointing and frustrating that we are still finding large-scale sales of illegal APEDs on these social media platforms six years after we first identified the illicit activity,” said Eric Feinberg, the co-founder of GIPEC. “Social media advertising algorithms are driving users directly to drug dealers. We didn’t have to spend very long looking for steroids because the platforms’ algorithms enabled the operators of suggested pages and videos of illegal steroids to find us.”

The DCA / GIPEC investigation found:

  • For several years, APED sellers have used Facebook pages to market and sell drugs. In at least one instance, Facebook placed a “Shop Now” button to enable users to make drug purchases. On another page targeting bodybuilders, sellers offered Somatropin, a human growth hormone (HGH) used to treat growth failure in children.
  • Numerous YouTube videos promote the sale of APEDs, among them “Steroids Corner,” a group selling the drugs that use a Whatsapp number as the point of contact.
  • Facebook offered “Suggested Pages” that promoted access to APEDs. These suggestions often were placed on other Facebook group pages related to sports. In one case, Facebook suggested steroid dealers next to content from the Taylor Hooton Foundation, a group dedicated to alerting the public to the dangers of APEDs.
  • APED dealers in some cases also offered access to opioids, drugs that have fueled an epidemic that has killed hundreds of thousands of Americans in the last decade.

“Young people face enormous pressure, whether it’s to look better, to get a scholarship to pay for college or live up to the unrealistic image of friends, celebrities and influencers on social media. Some seek a shortcut by using APEDs that offer the promise to play and look better,” said Don Hooton, Executive Chairman of the Taylor Hooton Foundation. “These substances carry dangerous risks that can have tragic results. Our efforts to help our nation’s youth steer clear of these risks are undermined when digital platforms such as Facebook and Google make it easy to acquire these substances online. These companies must be held accountable for this behavior and must take active steps immediately to cease enabling the sale of these substances via their platforms. NOW!”

While steroid and HGH use in the past was fueled by a desire to improve athletic performance, the research shows that enhanced appearance is now a key driver for use. The July 2019 DCA survey of 2,417 Americans found:

  • 1 in 10 respondents admitted to taking steroids. 13 percent of males and 8 percent of females had taken the harmful drugs.
  • When asked the reason for taking APEDs, 52 percent respondents said they took APEDs to “improve physical appearance” compared to 35 percent who said it was to “improve athletic performance.”
  • More than 1 in 3 (35 percent) of those who purchased APEDs said they got them online.
  • 37 percent of those respondents who took steroids or HGH started when they were 24 or younger with 10 percent were under the age of 18 at first use.
  • 63 percent of respondents who admitted to using steroids or HGH said they experienced side effects or health issues consistent with the use of such drugs.

About DCA

The Digital Citizens Alliance is a nonprofit, 501(c)(6) organization that is a consumer- oriented coalition focused on educating the public and policymakers on the threats that consumers face on the Internet. Digital Citizens wants to create a dialogue on the importance for Internet stakeholders— individuals, government and industry—to make the Web a safer place. Based in Washington, DC, the Digital Citizens Alliance counts among its supporters: private citizens, the health, pharmaceutical and creative industries as well as online safety experts and other communities focused on Internet safety. Visit us at www.digitalcitizensalliance.org.

About GIPEC

The Global Intellectual Property Enforcement Center Worldwide is a cyber intelligence company that uses patented tools to interrogate the deep web and social media. To learn more about GIPEC visit www.gipec.com

 

Can an Athlete With Type 1 Diabetes Make the Olympic Track Team?

Kate Hall

You’ll want to be ready if you find yourself on the receiving end of a Kate Hall medicine ball toss.

I wasn’t. During a midday early May workout, Hall recruited me to catch her throws and roll the ball back to her. I moved to the middle of the infield at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland, Maine. From just inside the track, Hall sprang forward and heaved the 8-pound ball. Next thing I knew, the ball landed just in front of me, bounced, and crashed into my chest. It left a red mark on my sternum that lingered for a week.

I should have known better. Hall, age 22, is the national high school record-holder in the long jump, a two-time NCAA champion in the event, and this year’s national indoor titlist. Her long jump PR of 6.83 meters is best appreciated by unspooling a tape measure 22 feet, 5 inches and imagining how much of that distance you could cover after a 40-meter run-up. Hall is also an accomplished sprinter, with a 100-meter best of 11.30 and a runner-up finish at 60 meters in February’s indoor nationals.

The medicine ball tosses came at the end of a workout focusing on sprintstarts; on some, she bolted from the blocks with such force that her grandfather, standing on the back of the blocks, was knocked off balance. So of course I should have braced myself when this exemplar of power sent a flying object my way.

Hall is exceptional even among her peers. After the 2018 outdoor season, she decided not to return to the University of Georgia for what would have been her senior year. She moved back to her native Maine to resume working with Chris Pribish, an athletic trainer who guided her high school career but who has otherwise never coached a world-class track athlete, and who spends much of his day working with orthopedic rehab clients.

Hall and Pribish hope that their highly individualized approach can put someone training solo, unsponsored, in Maine’s less-than-ideal climate, on this year’s world championships team. And they hope next year to show that Hall, who has type 1 diabetes, can be the first person with the disease known to become a U.S. track and field Olympian.


Growing up, Hall was used to being the quickest kid in school. That doesn’t necessarily mean much in Casco, Maine, which had a population of 3,742 when Hall became a teenager. But it meant something to a natural competitor, so one day in 2007, when the 10-year-old Hall was beaten by another girl at a soccer practice race, she wanted answers. Hall’s father learned the other girl had done a summer track program. He urged her to try track club the following summer.

“I was hesitant to do something new,” Hall says. “I was all set with soccer and basketball. My dad said, ‘Just go and try one practice. If you hate it, you don’t have to come back.’” Hall sampled all of the events, excelled in the sprints and long jump, and told her father she wanted to return. By seventh grade she was competing for state titles. She stopped playing basketball in eighth grade because it interfered with indoor track, and abandoned soccer the following fall to avoid knee injuries.

Kate Hall
Hall sometimes gets help at workouts from her father, Eric Hall.
 

Hall was obviously a natural, but that doesn’t mean she came to track unprepared. She has a jumper/sprinter’s version of Kenyan kids running to school. “When I was young, every time I went through a door, I would jump up and hit the doorpost,” she says. “I was probably doing hundreds of jumps a day. I sort of started to train myself to develop that springiness.”

In 2012, as a high school freshman, Hall set the goal of qualifying for the 2016 Olympic trials, even though her best long jump at the time was more than three feet shy of the eventual standard of 21 feet, 11 inches. In the final jump of her prep career, at the 2015 New Balance Nationals, Hall soared as she never had before. Her mark of 22 feet, 5 inches broke a 39-year-old national high school record, held by Kate McMillan, who in open competition went on to win silver at the 1976 Olympics. It was a massive improvement in personal terms—she had set her previous outdoor PR of 20 feet, 11 inches just the previous week—and an automatic qualifier for the 2016 trials.

https://www.runnersworld.com/runners-stories/a28450989/kate-hall-sprinter-type-1-diabetes/

Rhonda Balsamello

Image result for rhonda balsamello shidokanImage result for rhonda balsamello shidokan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My wife had bulked up for a Shidokan fight bccause she thought she was going to be matched with a girl that was 6” taller and about 40lbs heavier than her.

After the fight, she began to cut weight for her next match.

We didn’t lift weights so no pre-workouts, but she was using two highly-rated stimulants/fat burners to aid in the cut. 6 weeks later at just 40 years old and perfectly healthy, she was gone.

Always had perfect BP, HR, and labs. Complete physical 2 months prior came back perfect.

The responding officer and M.E. Investigator saw the OTC bottles and just looked at each other then me.

They said you’d be shocked how many calls they go on just like that one where they see extremely healthy people dead and the only things they were taking were energy drinks, pre-workouts, and/or OTC fat burners.

Although too late to change my situation, I’m grateful to see people out there raising awareness and sharing such important information.

Thank you to the people posting their tragic stories. I know it’s not easy.

Posted with permission from husband Vinny Balsamello

Fake drug test that reveals that male basketball player was pregnant (Not!)

Related image

D.J. Cooper was suspended by FIBA in Europe for faking a drug test last year that revealed he was pregnant.

 

D..J. Cooper stepped away from AS Monaco late in 2018 for “family reasons,” though he attempted to join the Bosnian national team as a naturalized player later that year.

The former Ohio University standout never made it, however, and was instead handed a two-year suspension from FIBA for failing a drug test. But it wasn’t performance enhancing drugs, recreational drugs or any of the other usual suspects that thwarted Cooper.

His drug test, according to Eurohoops.net, revealed that he was pregnant.

The test on the urine that Cooper provided revealed the presence of human chorionic gonadotropin, or hCG, which is a hormone made by the placenta during pregnancy. That urine, per the report, actually belonged to his girlfriend — who likely didn’t know she was pregnant at the time.

So, FIBA suspended Cooper for fraud. He’s eligible to return on June 20, 2020.

Cooper played for the Bobcats from 2009-2013, starting in nearly every game in his collegiate career while averaging 14.5 points, 6.5 assists and 4.3 rebounds per contest. After going undrafted, the guard took his talents to Europe. He played two seasons in the Greek League, for both Panathinaikos and AEK Athens, and then three in the French league with three different teams.

He averaged 6.7 points and 7.2 assists over 26 games in his last season with Monaco in 2017-18.

https://sports.yahoo.com/fiba-dj-cooper-drug-test-europe-failed-suspension-pregnancy-ohio-035012581.html

BRINGING CLARITY TO THE MURKY WORLD OF SPORTS SUPPLEMENTS

Americans gorge themselves on vitamins and protein powders, hoping for personal transformation. But what does the science say?LARRY WASHBURN/GETTY IMAGES

Americans gorge themselves on vitamins and protein powders, hoping for personal transformation. But what does the science say?LARRY WASHBURN/GETTY IMAGES

LEBRON JAMES HAS a cramp. It’s the final minutes of a 2014 playoff game between the San Antonio Spurs and the Miami Heat. With his team down by four points, James takes a quick step, beats his defender, and jumps, sending the ball in a high arc toward the basket. It’s a beautiful shot, but the glory is short-lived: On landing, James can’t run. In fact, he can barely walk. After much whistle-blowing, the game stops and a flurry of players, trainers, and coaches escort the limping James off the court, eventually carrying him to the bench.

That fateful cramp took him out of the game, but it also thrust the biggest NBA star into a new entrepreneurial venture—sports supplements. Not satisfied with the options on the market, James set about developing his own line of specialized products; last fall, with celebrity partners Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lindsey Vonn, and Cindy Crawford, he launched Ladder. The company makes four workout supplements, promising better results through its high-quality ingredients and scientifically backed blends of superfoods, probiotics, and protein powders. “Supplements are only going to make a small difference but an important difference,” says Adam Bornstein, Ladder’s chief of nutrition. “If it works for LeBron, imagine the impact it would have on the average person.”

Dietary supplements are a more than $45 billion industry, and they got that way by promising outsize results in nearly every aspect of your physical well-being, from bigger muscles to better heart health. More than half of US adultsregularly take some kind of supplement, whether fish oil, vitamin E, vitamin D, or protein powders. On the whole, these products are barely regulated. The US Food and Drug Administration treats dietary supplements like foods, not like drugs. That means the agency isn’t authorized to approve a supplement’s safety or effectiveness before it is marketed to consumers. To get a product off the market, the FDA must prove that it isn’t safe or that its label is misleading.

Ladder says it’s in the 1 percent of manufacturers that voluntarily submit their products for independent testing by the nonprofit NSF International, whose “Certified for Sport”label verifies the supplements aren’t contaminated with any illegal steroids, hormones, stimulants, or toxins. 

Although dietary supplements are presumed safe until government regulators hear otherwise, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that they cause some 23,000 visits to the emergency room every year, many due to cardiovascular problems. With booming demand and no premarket regulation, the industry has been flooded in recent years with a wide variety of products, many sporting their own proprietary blends.

Paul Thomas, a nutrition consultant at the National Institutes of Health, describes these products like snowflakes: “No two are alike.” That makes their effectiveness extremely difficult to study. Nutrients don’t work in a vacuum. Different combinations affect your body differently. Those special mixtures of amino acids and protein powders could have varying dosages and results. Blends are also frequently spiked with extra caffeine, sugars, steroids, or other ingredients that haven’t been tested at all.

“There have just been increasingly more products on the market with multiple combinations of ingredients that haven’t been assessed for safety,” says Patricia Deuster, director of the Human Performance Laboratory at Uniformed Services University. She estimates that between 60 and 80 percent of armed services members use some kind of supplement. “They think that the more ingredients, the better, when in fact we have no idea how these ingredients interact,” says Deuster. “It’s a public health risk.” (In 2012, after several deaths related to dietary supplements, the Department of Defense set up an education campaign called Operation Supplement Safety.)

 Beyond fears of toxicity, there is also the question of efficacy. One popular supplement ingredient, an amino acid called beta-alanine, is supposed to help keep lactic acid from building up in your muscles. The International Society of Sports Nutrition notes that supplements containing between 2 and 4 grams of beta-alanine “are safe and efficacious … for up to 8 weeks.” (Ladder’s Pre-Workout pack, which contains beta-alanine, has 3 grams.) Thomas, who notes the research trials on beta-alanine have shown “really conflicting results,” says, “If you go for longer than eight weeks, we don’t know; if you go higher than that amount, we don’t know.”

With many supplement ingredients, Thomas adds, “the responses are very individualistic.” Some people respond really well to creatine, for example, while others respond just a bit or not at all. “Sometimes they actually can decrease your performance,” he says. Because most studies are conducted on young, college-aged men, it’s hard to tell whether the same results will apply to older athletes or to women. Similarly, all those tests are conducted in a highly controlled laboratory setting, which Thomas points out “has relatively little to do with how you are going to be in the wild.”

Nancy Clark, a sports nutritionist, is even more skeptical of the promise of supplements. “The people that need protein supplements might be your grandmother, who just doesn’t eat very much other than toast and tea,” she says. For regular people, a good diet should suffice. “The more you exercise, the hungrier you are, the more vitamins that you eat,” she says—“assuming that you’re eating broccoli instead of Skittles.”

 None of this is to say that Ladder can’t help you. The company says it devotes considerable care to sourcing and quality control. It doesn’t include, say, ostarine and andarine in its formulations, which are considered untested drugs, are banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency, and are thought to cause serious health problems, including heart attack, stroke, and liver damage. Ladder restricts itself to ingredients that have been fairly well studied, such as whey protein and vitamin D. The company’s website reads like a Whole Foods inventory: non-GMO, gluten- and soy-free, sourced from peas and pumpkins and grass-fed cows. And because packaging is hardly ever trustworthy—and almost never so in the supplements world—Ladder also has all its products independently inspected by NSF.

If you are going to use supplements, researchers say you need to be clear about what you want to accomplish. Are you hoping to run faster, lift more, or have greater endurance? No one ingredient can help you do all those things better. Creatine can be great for high-intensity lifting, for example, but it won’t help you run a marathon or finish a triathlon. “In fact, because it causes you to retain some water, it will probably act as a detriment,” says Thomas.

You also need to be careful about dosage: More isn’t necessarily better. Too much caffeine leads to heart problems. A recent study suggested that large doses of vitamin D and calcium actually increase the risk of stroke. If you’re taking a supplement and you don’t feel an impact, the answer isn’t to take more; it’s to try something else. Deuster warns people to avoid any product that contains more than 200 percent of a given ingredient’s recommended daily value.

If you responsibly take a supplement, you might see an effect. Maybe. Even then, though, the real benefit may not be physical at all. “The placebo effect is very powerful,” says Deuster. If you think that extra powder will help you run, jump, and lift as well as LeBron, it just might.

https://www.wired.com/story/wild-unregulated-world-sports-supplements/

Americans gorge themselves on vitamins and protein powders, hoping for personal transformation. But what does the science say?LARRY WASHBURN/GETTY IMAGES

Americans gorge themselves on vitamins and protein powders, hoping for personal transformation. But what does the science say?LARRY WASHBURN/GETTY IMAGES

LEBRON JAMES HAS a cramp. It’s the final minutes of a 2014 playoff game between the San Antonio Spurs and the Miami Heat. With his team down by four points, James takes a quick step, beats his defender, and jumps, sending the ball in a high arc toward the basket. It’s a beautiful shot, but the glory is short-lived: On landing, James can’t run. In fact, he can barely walk. After much whistle-blowing, the game stops and a flurry of players, trainers, and coaches escort the limping James off the court, eventually carrying him to the bench.

That fateful cramp took him out of the game, but it also thrust the biggest NBA star into a new entrepreneurial venture—sports supplements. Not satisfied with the options on the market, James set about developing his own line of specialized products; last fall, with celebrity partners Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lindsey Vonn, and Cindy Crawford, he launched Ladder. The company makes four workout supplements, promising better results through its high-quality ingredients and scientifically backed blends of superfoods, probiotics, and protein powders. “Supplements are only going to make a small difference but an important difference,” says Adam Bornstein, Ladder’s chief of nutrition. “If it works for LeBron, imagine the impact it would have on the average person.”

Dietary supplements are a more than $45 billion industry, and they got that way by promising outsize results in nearly every aspect of your physical well-being, from bigger muscles to better heart health. More than half of US adultsregularly take some kind of supplement, whether fish oil, vitamin E, vitamin D, or protein powders. On the whole, these products are barely regulated. The US Food and Drug Administration treats dietary supplements like foods, not like drugs. That means the agency isn’t authorized to approve a supplement’s safety or effectiveness before it is marketed to consumers. To get a product off the market, the FDA must prove that it isn’t safe or that its label is misleading.

Ladder says it’s in the 1 percent of manufacturers that voluntarily submit their products for independent testing by the nonprofit NSF International, whose “Certified for Sport”label verifies the supplements aren’t contaminated with any illegal steroids, hormones, stimulants, or toxins. 

Although dietary supplements are presumed safe until government regulators hear otherwise, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that they cause some 23,000 visits to the emergency room every year, many due to cardiovascular problems. With booming demand and no premarket regulation, the industry has been flooded in recent years with a wide variety of products, many sporting their own proprietary blends.

Paul Thomas, a nutrition consultant at the National Institutes of Health, describes these products like snowflakes: “No two are alike.” That makes their effectiveness extremely difficult to study. Nutrients don’t work in a vacuum. Different combinations affect your body differently. Those special mixtures of amino acids and protein powders could have varying dosages and results. Blends are also frequently spiked with extra caffeine, sugars, steroids, or other ingredients that haven’t been tested at all.

“There have just been increasingly more products on the market with multiple combinations of ingredients that haven’t been assessed for safety,” says Patricia Deuster, director of the Human Performance Laboratory at Uniformed Services University. She estimates that between 60 and 80 percent of armed services members use some kind of supplement. “They think that the more ingredients, the better, when in fact we have no idea how these ingredients interact,” says Deuster. “It’s a public health risk.” (In 2012, after several deaths related to dietary supplements, the Department of Defense set up an education campaign called Operation Supplement Safety.)

 Beyond fears of toxicity, there is also the question of efficacy. One popular supplement ingredient, an amino acid called beta-alanine, is supposed to help keep lactic acid from building up in your muscles. The International Society of Sports Nutrition notes that supplements containing between 2 and 4 grams of beta-alanine “are safe and efficacious … for up to 8 weeks.” (Ladder’s Pre-Workout pack, which contains beta-alanine, has 3 grams.) Thomas, who notes the research trials on beta-alanine have shown “really conflicting results,” says, “If you go for longer than eight weeks, we don’t know; if you go higher than that amount, we don’t know.”

With many supplement ingredients, Thomas adds, “the responses are very individualistic.” Some people respond really well to creatine, for example, while others respond just a bit or not at all. “Sometimes they actually can decrease your performance,” he says. Because most studies are conducted on young, college-aged men, it’s hard to tell whether the same results will apply to older athletes or to women. Similarly, all those tests are conducted in a highly controlled laboratory setting, which Thomas points out “has relatively little to do with how you are going to be in the wild.”

Nancy Clark, a sports nutritionist, is even more skeptical of the promise of supplements. “The people that need protein supplements might be your grandmother, who just doesn’t eat very much other than toast and tea,” she says. For regular people, a good diet should suffice. “The more you exercise, the hungrier you are, the more vitamins that you eat,” she says—“assuming that you’re eating broccoli instead of Skittles.”

 

None of this is to say that Ladder can’t help you. The company says it devotes considerable care to sourcing and quality control. It doesn’t include, say, ostarine and andarine in its formulations, which are considered untested drugs, are banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency, and are thought to cause serious health problems, including heart attack, stroke, and liver damage. Ladder restricts itself to ingredients that have been fairly well studied, such as whey protein and vitamin D. The company’s website reads like a Whole Foods inventory: non-GMO, gluten- and soy-free, sourced from peas and pumpkins and grass-fed cows. And because packaging is hardly ever trustworthy—and almost never so in the supplements world—Ladder also has all its products independently inspected by NSF.

If you are going to use supplements, researchers say you need to be clear about what you want to accomplish. Are you hoping to run faster, lift more, or have greater endurance? No one ingredient can help you do all those things better. Creatine can be great for high-intensity lifting, for example, but it won’t help you run a marathon or finish a triathlon. “In fact, because it causes you to retain some water, it will probably act as a detriment,” says Thomas.

You also need to be careful about dosage: More isn’t necessarily better. Too much caffeine leads to heart problems. A recent study suggested that large doses of vitamin D and calcium actually increase the risk of stroke. If you’re taking a supplement and you don’t feel an impact, the answer isn’t to take more; it’s to try something else. Deuster warns people to avoid any product that contains more than 200 percent of a given ingredient’s recommended daily value.

If you responsibly take a supplement, you might see an effect. Maybe. Even then, though, the real benefit may not be physical at all. “The placebo effect is very powerful,” says Deuster. If you think that extra powder will help you run, jump, and lift as well as LeBron, it just might.

https://www.wired.com/story/wild-unregulated-world-sports-supplements/

Alise Willoughby wins second BMX world title

Image result for Alise Willoughby

Alise Willoughby earned her second BMX world title in three years, boosting her hopes to improve on her Rio Olympic silver medal in Tokyo next year.

“Coming into this I was down in the dumps at the start of the day, I started my day on the ground,” Willoughby said, referring to a crash in an earlier round Saturday, according to USA Cycling. “You know coming into this I knew it was going to be tough with all the Europeans who have been here every week for the past year and in the rain. None of it was in my favor. I’m really happy I rose to the challenge and I can’t believe here we are.”

Willoughby, a two-time Olympian, beat 2018 World champion Laura Smulders of the Netherlands by .445 of a second in Zolder, Belgium. Two-time Olympic champion Mariana Pajon of Colombia was taken out by another rider’s crash early in the final.

Twan van Gendt and Niek Kimmann made it a Netherlands one-two in the men’s event, where no Americans made the final. Van Gendt got the hole shot, then benefited coming around the penultimate curve in the lead when riders Nos. 2-5 crashed on the rain-soaked course. Full race video is here.

Rio Olympic champion Connor Fields was eliminated in the semifinals. Fields is the lone American to earn an Olympic BMX title since the sport debuted at Beijing 2008.

Willoughby, née Post, married 2012 Olympic silver medalist Sam Willoughby of Australia on Dec. 31, 2017, two years after he suffered a training crash that temporarily left him with no feeling below his chest. He walked her down the aisle with the aid of a walker.

Alise Willoughby wins second BMX world title

Elvis Andrus: ‘It’s an honor for me to become an American today’

DALLAS — Texas Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus became a U.S. citizen Friday.

He was sworn in at 12:30 p.m. at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Offices in Irving.

“I think it was the right time for me to become a citizen especially with everything we are going through with immigration,” Andrus said. 

Andrus was 16 when he came to the U.S. from Venezuela in 2005. He joined the Texas Rangers four years later and has become the face of the franchise.

Though he has been a U.S. resident for the past five years, he felt it was time to become a citizen, in part because of political strife in Venezuela. 

“It’s an honor for me to become an American today,” he said. 

He wanted to take the citizenship test last year but wasn’t able to. When he learned he could take it this month, he made sure he was available even though the Rangers were traveling. 

Andrus left Oakland late Thursday after the game so he could take the U.S. citizenship exam Friday morning.

Elvis Andrus
 

He says he passed with flying colors clearing the way for the swearing-in ceremony.

“I studied for the past week. I think I over prepared myself. I was a little nervous, way more than playing baseball for sure,” Andrus said. 

Andrus shied away from commenting much on the sometimes violent protests in Venezuelan after voter suppression was reported in the 2018 presidential election there. 

Instead he focused on what it will mean to be an American citizen. He will be able to vote in the 2020 presidential election. And he looks forward to celebrating more U.S. holidays like other proud Americans. 

Seeing that American pride is “something that gives me chills, you know, the Fourth of July and holidays. It’s amazing the way they remember things. The past, it never goes away,” he said. “Every country should be that way.” 

After the ceremony, Andrus hopped on a plane and headed back to Oakland. 

“I have to go back to work.”

https://www.wfaa.com/article/sports/elvis-andrus-its-an-honor-for-me-to-become-an-american-today/287-e01f5be3-8feb-4913-aae9-ada7e5791538

Woman Nearly Dies After Drinking Popular Soda

he liver is located in the upper right portion of the belly under the ribs, it is the heaviest organ in the body and one of the largest. The liver primarily processes nutrients from food, makes bile, removes toxins from the body and builds proteins. Some of the habits that damage the liver includes, taking alcohol, bad choice of diet, withholding urine etc.

In November 2015, 26-year-old full time mother, Mary Allwood of Brixtham, England, was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance due to severe pain in her side. On getting to the hospital, Medical staff examined her and an MRI scan revealed that her liver was twice the normal size.

As said earlier alcohol consumption is one of the leading causes of liver disease, due to the liver’s size doctors automatically assumed that she was an alcoholic, until Mary revealed that she does not drink alcohol, but instead consumes 20 Red Bulls every single day.

Mary was drinking the equivalent of 16 Mars Bars in sugar daily and as much as the caffeine found in 17 cups of coffee, she would stash the cans all over the house and spent nearly £2,300 a year on the drinks.

“I needed it and I didn’t care at the time what damage it was doing to me,” Mary explained. “If I didn’t get my fix I would be miserable and grumpy and it just wasn’t an option – I would make sure I got it.”

Mary recalled how she found herself on the self-destructive path of sugar addiction. “At first I would feel as if it would give me a buzz and energy, but eventually it wouldn’t give me energy – I just needed it,” she said. “I needed the taste and fizziness. It was my heroin.

I would feel awful if I didn’t have it. ” she further said that she became addicted just four months after trying the energy drink for the first time.

“I would go to the supermarket and get ten multi-packs at a time,” she stated. “I’d tell the person at the till that I had a restaurant and I was buying them for that reason.”

According to the Daily Mail, the high sugar content of Red Bull can lead to fat being deposited in the liver, causing scarring and ultimately cirrhosis (liver damage).

Due to the excessive consumption of the energy drink, her weight shot up from a size 16 to a size 24, she also experienced an episode of heart palpitations. All these were not enough to prevent her from continuing her Red Bull habit. It was only when she was got to the emergency room that doctors told her that her liver was damaged that she decided to quit.

“They looked at me in disgust,” Mary recalls.

Now that Mary has beaten her addiction, she wants others to be aware of the dangers that Red Bull can pose.

“I think the rules should be changed and it should be treated in a similar way to cigarettes, with the blank packaging,” Mary claims.

https://www.jumblejoy.com/woman-nearly-dies-after-drinking-popular-soda-sold-nationwide