Performance-Enhancing Drugs Can Have Severe Long-Term Impact on Health: Expert

Performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs), which led to the suspension of 13 Major League Baseball players this week, can have severe long-term health effects, an expert tells Fox News.

In the short term, hormones or steroids can strengthen muscles, bones and tendons. Dr. Robert Truax, who practices family and sports medicine at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland, says the drugs allow athletes to train harder and longer, with fewer injuries.

PEDs come in various forms, including pills, injections or creams. Athletes often use the drugs for short periods, then stop days or weeks before they get tested, to allow the drugs to leave their system. “You can cycle it so you have moments of medicine in you, do aggressive training and the medicine helps enhance that training,” Truax said. “Then they get off of it, and hopefully their training without the medicine is a little bit better.”

In the long term, PEDs can cause impotence, worsening acne, balding and “steroid rage.” PEDs can also stunt growth in adolescents, the article notes. More serious effects include heart and liver damage, and an increased risk of blood clots.

“The heart is a muscle…and the heart isn’t designed to have that much testosterone stimulating it,” Truax said. “So it will grow abnormally. Then, the testosterone gets broken down by the liver so too much of it can accumulate in the liver and damage it.”

In January, MLB and its players union announced they reached an agreement to conduct in-season blood testing of players for human growth hormone. Players also will be tested for synthetic testosterone, which is increasingly popular because it washes out of the body fairly quickly after being used.