Gyms selling steroids leads to deaths

Sagarika Ghose: Hi there. Yes we’re focusing tonight on a very important public health issue. Is the quest for the perfect body leading to dangerous health hazards for young people? A growing number of gyms are selling and encouraging the use of bodybuilding steroids – completely misleading young fitness enthusiasts who are eager to build their bodies. 29-year-old Rijo died because of the supplementary powders he consumed on the advice of his gym instructor.

A shocking death there due to the fact that gyms and trainers recommending steroids. Is the gym culture becoming hazardous for health? Indian Council of Medical Research has said that consuming steroids is not only harmful but also illegal. Let's shed some light on this dangerous practice first and then we’ll talk about solutions. Joining us tonight Rahul Bhatt, actor and celebrity fitness professional, we have Dr Ambrish Mithal, Endocrinologist. Joining us Sheru Aangrish, celebrity fitness trainer, among whose clients are Hrithik Roshan and Jackky Bhagnani. And Joginder Singh Saluja, Role Model Awardee by President of India, Real Life Hero of Satyamev Jayate, Chief Consultant of the CRPF. Sheru Aangrish let me kick it off by asking you, shocking case of that boy (Rijo) who died because his gym trainer recommended steroids. Now I have a survey from Assocham which says 82 per cent teenagers say fitness trainers and coaches are influencing them to use drugs. Are gym instructors feeding steroids to young people?

Sheru Aangrish: The fact is that there are certain gym instructors who are recommending steroids to people who are looking for shortcuts. If you are looking to build a fit and toned body, and your target is four to six week or even eight weeks, if you want to gain weight, I don't think you can naturally gain weight in such a short span. I mean, you can transform the same body weight, but if you need to gain weight at the same time, and you want to get leaner as well, the only way is taking anabolic steroids.

Sagarika Ghose: The only way by which you can do it is anabolic steroids?

Sheru Aangrish: Not the only way, I mean, the process is basically four to six months.

Sagarika Ghose: Hold that thought I will come to you. The only way you can gain body weight is by using anabolic steroids. Let me ask the doctor a set of questions and then I will ask you (Dr Ambrish Mithal) to give me a comprehensive answer, and then this can set us up for the discussion. Why are gyms giving steroids? Are these steroids widely available and are how are they being procured so easily? As a doctor, are there many young people who are coming to you and saying give me steroids; I want to build by body as look like Hrithik Roshan?

Dr Ambrish Mithal: I think, Sagarika, there are several issues here, one is the fact that people are looking to build their body very fast and they often have role models who are unrealistic. Everyone wants to be Hrithik Roshan or Salman Khan or somebody, and some gyms are capitalising on this. You know, if you want to gain muscle without gaining fat really fast you will have to resort to these kinds of things. You can build a great a body but it is going to talk time, it is going to take effort. But if you resort to things that are not just anabolic steroids, there are several things that have been used; anabolic steroid is one that is testosterone. There is growth hormone that is being used; I have seen that freely being used. Even thyroid hormones are used to enhance metabolism. And you would be surprised that people use insulin, insulin is also a growth hormone, people use insulin to stimulate appetite so that they can eat more and build their muscle. So these are all used as off labelled uses, they are not recommended for these uses.

Sagarika Ghose: Dr Ambrish Mithal I just want to interrupt you with a question there because I'm sure this concerns a number of viewers. When they use these substances are they simply unaware of the health hazards of these substances or are they so desperate for that perfect body that they will use these substances even though it means talking liberties with their own health?

Dr Ambrish Mithal: It is a mix of both, Sagarika, basically yes, some of them are unaware, and they are misled by their guides and coaches. But there are others who are fully aware, I deal with these kind of people and they are fully aware and you go on explaining to them, it is not the way, but there is something in there head that tells them that they have to do this even if anything happens.

Sagarika Ghose: That is a very important point that they are aware of the health hazards yet they are so desperate to get that perfect body that they will take those substances even though it may kill them. Rahul Bhatt let me put to you this point, first of all, are you aware of this practice of gyms giving steroids to these young people? And second of all should Bollywood stop selling this myth machine that you can get this body in six weeks that you can get six pack abs in eight weeks. This kind of glamour that is attached to bodybuilding be controlled a little bit because clearly this myth is being created, these glamorous images are being created are driving young men literally to their death.

Rahul Bhatt: First of all, ma'am, I would like to clarify that I as fitness professional do not ever endorse the use of anabolic steroids. You have state of the art supplementations which are very advanced. The world has got advanced with nutritional supplements and with the intelligent use of just the nutritional supplements and scientific training one can achieve which these so called poster boys of Bollywood have.

Sagarika Ghose: But Rahul the question is that with in those nutritional supplements steroids are being mixed, that is the issue.

Rahul Bhatt: That is because there is no proper governing body. Most supplement manufacturers coming from US or that are imported, there are governing bodies. You are talking about nutritional supplements being spiked but that is because of, again there is no governing body among the supplement industry, as well as there is no governing body with professional trainers.

Sagarika Ghose: So there is a need for regulation of the supplements. Let me just get you quickly to respond to that Sheru, and then we will hear from Joginder. Sao there are supplements that are safe? There are many supplements that are safe; there are some which are not safe. Can you make that distinction or should all supplements be banned?

Sheru Aangrish: I want to clear one think first of all, there is a difference between anabolic steroids and food supplements. When we talk about health food supplements they are all regulated, most of the health food supplements are imported from countries like the US. They are FDI approved and they are scientifically tested as well. I mean, country like the US can't allow these companies to add steroids in the supplements, it is not possible. Whatever is happening is happening in India where counterfeit products are made, where counterfeit food supplements are made; then the steroids are basically put inside these supplements. And then ignorant user, who does not think if it is a safer version or not, he keeps using it. When we talk about steroids there is a huge lack of knowledge, how to use it.

Sagarika Ghose: There is a lack of knowledge. Joginder Singh I would like to ask you, will you advice the people when they are using these food supplements, to read the label and buy regular brand?

Joginder Singh Saluja: A totally agree with Rahul Bhat that it is important to stop addition of steroids in food supplements. It should be punishable by law, but the food supplements people don't care about it. 95 per cent of food supplement in India is counterfeit. People to earn more profit sell counterfeit products, the material inside the box costs Rs 300 to Rs 400, however, it is sold for Rs 3000 to Rs 4000.

Sagarika Ghose: So you are saying that there is a collaboration between guys and manufacturers?

Joginder Singh Saluja: No I'm not saying that, but the supplement mafia is responsible for all this. They add steroids to the product so that it gives an efficient result so that the more people buy the product. Normal supplement also helps to improve the body but it takes more time around 4 to 6 months, however, by the use of supplement which has steroid in it gives a quick result. There should be a strict rule that if the manufacturer is found using steroids in the food supplements, the product should be banned.

Sagarika Ghose: Let me get the doctor in here, Dr Ambrish how can we then have a situation where we have the health supplements, the regular supplements in the market, but take out the adulterated supplements. What kind of regulation, what kind of market awareness is necessary? Because clearly this is a completely unregulated field right now.

Dr Ambrish Mithal: I think it is about governmental regulation for this part of it. Obviously like you have so many stereos drugs in India, you know, they are sold all over the place. Similarly supplements are even easier because they are not regulated by the drug controller or by anybody. So there needs to be a legislation to ensure that the supplements are not adulterated. There is another aspect to the problem, other than adulterated supplements there are also actual use of hormones, and this is in the US too. So these are hormones that are procured illegally, they are made through dubious sources but people know they are hormones. They are not being misled and they are taking those to build their body.

Sagarika Ghose: Can you just give a message to our young viewers who are watching this program, that yes you can build your body, yes you can take health supplements but just stay clear of those steroids. Or are you also saying that with out steroids you can't build your body?

Sheru Aangrish: No I never said that, you can create a world class body safely.

Sagarika Ghose: But not is six or eight weeks.

Sheru Aangrish: No you can build in six weeks, my statement was you can transform your body weight, if your body weight is 60 kg, you are fat, in six weeks you can still maintain 60 Kg body weight but instead of fat you convert it to a muscle. But if you are looking to increase your body weight from 60 to 75 kg and at the same time want to get leaner that is practically not possible.

Sagarika Ghose: Rahul Bhatt is that the message that needs to go out, that if you want that perfect body you have to work and eat proper food. Perhaps you need to eat non-vegetarian food; you need to adhere to a diet.

Sheru Aangrish: I'm a vegetarian and it is a complete myth. And you say that Bollywood is responsible, I want to correct you, we don't recommend steroids.

Joginder Singh Saluja: I have observed many actors. Recently I was shooting with Aamir Khan and they really work very hard. Now the stunts and body which you will see in Doom 3 is all hard word, he (Aamir) has put a lot of effort into it.

Sagarika Ghose: That is a very good point, that if you want perfect body work hard and take proper food, not steroid not shortcuts. Rahul Bhatt let me put to you the question about the Bollywood heroes and the kind of image that they are putting forth on the screen. Is this image dangerous because sometimes it looks as if it's very easy? In six weeks you can get a six pack abs. Should Bollywood be careful about the kind of images of the male body that it is showing because as I mentioned may young men are trying to become Hrithik Roshan, trying to be Shah Rukh Khan, and are driving themselves literally to death?

Rahul Bhatt: I do agree that Bollywood is partly responsible, but so is the media. Because now the statement is that only if you have six pack abs then you can become an actor. So you are putting pressure on youngsters and media's is partly responsible for creating this.

Sagarika Ghose: So in your experience, have you come across young people who have come to you, or do you know young people who even want to use steroid to get that kind of muscular body.

Rahul Bhatt: See people are willing to make compromises in their health for results. You do have people out there. There is so much pressure to succeed, everybody wants to look good. The truth is, yes, people do use shortcuts. First of all let me clarify that nobody is an absolute authority on the use of anabolic steroids. Nor doctors, nor so called gym gurus, nobody. Anabolic steroids need to be criminalised, that needs to be done with a priority, like in the States (US) it is a criminal offence. I my opinion, will stop and these so called gym instructors will be a little more scared in advising and selling this kind of thinks to make a fast buck.

Sagarika Ghose: So there is a nexus between those adulterating mafias and the gyms to sell these things and make money from these expensive drugs. But Dr Ambrish you were shaking you head when Rahul was saying these anabolic steroids needs to be criminalised?

Dr Ambrish Mithal: No anabolic steroids are very important tools for us to treat people with specific conditions, so they are medicines. If they are misused that is a different thing. So you can't say that anabolic steroids are all criminal, anabolic steroids are very important for us to treat people who are deficient in testosterone for example. There is a legitimate use, but they are misused. They are being procured by dubious sources.

Sagarika Ghose: So how in your opinion is the misused to be stopped?

Dr Ambrish Mithal: I think we have to educated people that is one aspect, the programme you are doing is very helpful. This kind of education where people are told about the misuse of anabolic steroids, and other hormones to build their body. I think it is a manifestation of the same kind that girls have to attain size zero. It is almost a similar mindset. We need regulation

Sagarika Ghose: It is a similar mindset. We need regulation, he have a whole list of the terrible effect that steroid and steroid misuse can actually cause to your body.

Aryan Vaid, model and Actor said, “I used to hit the gym for nearly two-and-a-half hours every day. It nearly killed me. I took a drug that would prevent hair loss. It worked well, but my doctors said that this drug too was one of the reasons why my testosterone levels dropped.”

You were saying that the companies who sell adulterated food supplement, their licenses should be cancelled.

Joginder Singh Saluja: Two kind of likeness' should be cancelled, one who sell counterfoil supplements and the instructors who promote such products, their licenses should also be cancelled.

Sagarika Ghose: Regulate gym, that is a very important point.

Joginder Singh Saluja: If anyone found guilty of selling or endorsing such kind of products, he should be punished strictly.

Sagarika Ghose: Sheru I am going to give you the last word, what needs to be done. If I'm a young person, I want to be fit, I want to build that perfect body, should I stay away from anabolic steroids completely or I use supplements prescribed by the doctor?

Sheru Aangrish: No, I can't say use supplements prescribed by doctors because these supplementations are as good as eating food. All supplements are good, they are FDI approved. All we need to do is take strict measures to check black mafias. And when we are talking about the steroid issue, there is lack of knowledge, people need to educated about what to do and what not to do and how to do it. In October we are having an event…

Sagarika Ghose: You are having an event… Unfortunately we are completely out of time, but it is a very important issue. Remember if you are a young person out there and you are looking to build your body, do not go in for adulterated health supplements, they can kill you and they are terribly dangerous for health. And if you want to look like Hrithik Roshan, you want to look like Shah Rukh Khan, there are not shortcuts you have to work very hard, do not take chances with your health. Thank you very much indeed, Rahul Bhatt, Dr Ambrish Mithal, Sheru Aangrish, and Joginder Singh Saluja.

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