November 19, 2014
Energy drinks, supplements and steroids – they can all be dangerous for kids!
Baseball to volleyball, every sport in between, teenage athletes put countless hours into improving their performance. Often, they supplement the practice and workouts with enhancers, both legal and illegal. “In the 9 to 12 grade athletes, there’s a handful — about ten percent or so — who have used steroids at some point in their life,” explained Doctor Joel Brenner, Medical Director of Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters’Sports Medicine and Adolescent Medicine programs. This year, Partnership for Drug-Free Kids said a growing number of high school athletes are using performance-enhancing substances. A survey by the group showed that when asked in 2013, about seven percent of students, grades 9 through 12, acknowledged they took steroids at some point. That’s up from five percent in 2012 when Partnership for Drug-Free Kids asked the same question. The number of high schoolers who said they used synthetic human growth hormone (HGH) more than doubled from 2012 to 2013, jumping from five percent to eleven percent. Both substances are illegal without a prescription. Students intent on using them can find steroids and HGH through the Internet and other means. “Depending on which gyms they go to, you know, certain people will have access to them, and they want to model themselves and be like someone who’s stronger, or bigger, or faster, and they will take that route,” said Coach Elisha “Cadillac” Harris who has worked with young athletes in Hampton Roads for decades. “If it’s not good for the NFL guys, it’s not good for the college guys — this is what I tell them — if it’s not good for the NFL guys, and they have all the scientific research and the resources — and the college teams — if it’s not good for them, then, it’s no way that it can be good for you at this point where your body is still growing and trying to get to a point where you can be the best you,” Harris offered. He, Brenner, and others said that while the health risks of HGH and steroids may be apparent — organ damage, hair loss, stunted growth among them — another trend amongst teenage athletes poses risks. More high schoolers are using supplements, including different powders, to boost their workouts and increase results. Those products, while legal and readily available, could contain ingredients that are not the best for developing bodies. “There shouldn’t be actual human growth hormone, but here might be precursors — ones that can then form into the human growth hormones and the steroids — and the problem is, we don’t know for sure what’s in it,” Brenner told 13News Now. “There is no real control, and people shouldn’t be fooled into thinking these products are safe just because they’re out on the shelf.” Brenner explained that unlike medications, which have to be proven safe before they are available, supplements are made available without any kind of safety check. Once they are on the market, people have to show they pose a threat before any kind of check is done or regulatory action is taken. “Their bones are still growing. Their brains are still developing for the first twenty-some years of their lives,” said Brenner. “Everything’s changing inside, so if we’re throwing in different substances that might be toxic or harmful, it can lead to bad side effects there.” One popular ingredient, which also is available by itself, is Creatine. It spurs the body’s ability to produce energy quickly. Harris explained, “If they don’t have enough water in their system or, you know, enough of the right product in their system, they pull muscles, and they have some other effects.” “Energy drinks are a performance enhancing supplement but can have a lot of adverse effects to the point of death and everything before that,” Brenner pointed out. Recently, the Food and Drug Administration began collecting information about caffeine powder. Teenagers are among the people using the concentrated form of the stimulant to boost workouts or weight loss. One teaspoon contains the same amount of caffeine found in about 25 cups of coffee. The powder has been linked to dozens of cases in which people got sick. In one instance, it’s believed to have led to the death of a high school athlete in Ohio. Use of any type of performance enhancer for any length of time can cause addiction, chemical or behavioral. “The behavioral addiction to is is when I’ve got to do that over and over again to emotionally feel like I’m connected, or working, or things are right for me and what I’m trying to accomplish,” said Doctor Paul Hardy who is with Recovery for Life. On the chemical addiction front, Hardy said a teenager’s relationships typically will shift. They won’t get along or “play” well with others, and they may become aggressive in their dealings with people. “A student is gonna be on edge,” Hardy said. “They’re gonna be exhausted. Now, on edge and exhausted are pretty common symptoms for any teenager. That’s kind of the textbook definition or what it means to be a teen, but this is gonna beyond that.” Brenner told 13News Now there is little research that’s been done on the effects and the efficacy of many supplemental ingredients on and in teenagers, adding to the problem. If there are questions about them, information is available online and through pediatricians. Brenner added the reality is most young athletes don’t need to use supplements of any form for nutrition or a boost. In fact, money is better spent on consultations with a registered dietician whose guidance coupled with hard work provides a safe way to gain a competitive edge. “Kids are ready to do anything that’s gonna get them and bring them success to win. They’ll do almost anything to win at all costs, not realizing that they’re putting their future on the line,” Harris said. “Make sure you’re doing the all-natural things, and you’ll get the best performance and the best result.” http://www.13newsnow.com/story/news/local/13news-now-investigates/2014/11/18/known-dangers-hidden-risks-to-teenagers-using-performance-enhancers/19167575/