Saying no to steroids

February 28, 2007

Teenagers trying to enhance either their body image or their athletic prowess often turn to steroids or hormonal supplements without realizing the potentially harmful consequences. That's why a new local public awareness campaign about steroid dangers for teens is right on target.

A 2003 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that nearly 1 million high school students said they had tried steroids, triple the number who confessed to using them in 1993. The most rapid increase in use was among girls, probably due to their increased participation in sports as a result of Title IX, the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in education.

Many teens who take steroids or other performance enhancers are just following some of the high-profile professional players who have been caught boosting their game with drugs. And although it's often difficult to focus teens' attention beyond the here and now, St. Joseph Medical Center in Baltimore, working with other hospitals and school officials, is wisely engaging in an education and prevention effort.

The campaign is using a telephone hot line, brochures and advertisements to inform students - as well as parents and coaches who might push them too hard - that the cost of today's athletic record or muscle-toned body could be stunted growth, liver or prostate cancer, depression or heart disease in years to come.

It's an important and worthwhile warning that the lure of steroids or other supplements for short-term gain can mean long-term pain.

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