When athletes are punished for using anabolic steroids, how long should they be suspended? A few weeks? A few months? A year?
New findings at the University of Oslo suggest that even a decade may not be long enough to counteract the effects of the banned substances. Here’s why:
When female mice were given doses of testosterone, their muscle cells developed new nuclei, which enable the muscles to produce more proteins. When the drugs were stopped, the muscles shrank to their original size, but the extra nuclei did not go away. So, three months later when the muscles were exercised again, they grew 31 percent in just six days compared to 6 percent for the muscles of mice that did not receive steroids.
In mouse years, three months correspond to about 10 years in a human life — and the effects may last longer, but researchers did not extend the experiment. This suggests athletes would retain an advantage long after any short suspension. On the plus side, the study also suggests that simply exercising more when you’re young may help you keep better muscle tone or rebuild muscle as you age.
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