MUSCLING TO ILL-HEALTH

Mus­cle-build­ing drugs are be­ing pushed to gym-go­ers, many of them stu­dents and young pro­fes­sion­als. While an­abolic steroids may pro­duce quick re­sults, the health risks could be deadly, writes

New Straits Times - - Front Page - » RE­PORTS BY AU­DREY VIJAINDREN

‘THERE are no short­cuts — ev­ery­thing is reps, reps, reps.’ But many stu­dents and young work­ing adults who go to gyms are not pay­ing at­ten­tion to Arnold Sch­warzeneg­ger’s ad­vice on the right way to build mus­cles. In locker rooms, they are buy­ing steroid-laden drugs that will buff them up, and cause great harm too.

WHEN Ter­ence (not his real name) saw some “mints” in his son’s room, he didn’t think much about it. But, when he no­ticed his son’s dras­ti­cally changed diet and ob­ses­sion with bulk­ing up, he started to get wor­ried.

“At first, I thought him be­ing health-con­scious was a good thing. In­stead of hang­ing out at the ma­mak stall with his friends until mid­night, he was work­ing out and eat­ing healthy. Then, I found out about the pills,” he said.

Ter­ence, whose son was at­tend­ing a pri­vate school at the time, said: “I de­manded that he told me the truth.

“He as­sured me it was vi­ta­mins to help him with his stud­ies.

“So, I con­fis­cated the bot­tles and did my own re­search. I was shocked to learn that the pills con­tained steroids for mus­cle en­hance­ment and phys­i­cal en­durance.”

Ter­ence said he was forced to ter­mi­nate his son’s gym mem­ber­ship.

“I knew that at the age of 19, all young­sters could think about was their phys­i­cal ap­pear­ance. Al­though be­ing mus­cu­lar is the trend, you can­not brush aside the health risks of steroid abuse.”

The short-term ef­fects of steroid abuse in­clude acne, mood swings, fa­tigue, rest­less­ness and ag­i­ta­tion, de­creased ap­petite, trou­ble sleep­ing, de­creased sperm count and im­po­tence.

Long-term ef­fects in­clude anger and aggression (known as “roid rage”), para­noia, delu­sions, heart at­tack, stroke, kid­ney fail­ure, liver tu­mours and blood­borne dis­eases (in cases where steroids are in­jected).

Af­ter a ses­sion with a stu­dent coun­sel­lor, Ter­ence’s son ad­mit­ted that the steroids were “pushed” by his peers in the gym locker room and that it was “nor­mal” for col­lege kids to take them for faster mus­cle growth.

A ran­dom sur­vey by the New Sun­day

Times re­vealed that eight out of 10 young gym-go­ers ad­mit­ted to tak­ing mus­cle­build­ing prod­ucts and an­abolic steroids af­ter be­ing ap­proached in locker rooms by other mem­bers and gym em­ploy­ees.

Three of them said they had ob­tained the prod­ucts on­line.

Some Klang Val­ley gyms claimed that “steroid push­ing” was not tak­ing place on their premises, but their mem­bers, who were col­lege stu­dents, said oth­er­wise.

Er­rol (not his real name), a univer­sity stu­dent, said he had pur­chased mus­cle-en­hanc­ing prod­ucts in tablet form from his gym friends.

“When one of my friends in­tro­duced me to th­ese tablets, I was scep­ti­cal. But, af­ter a few months, I no­ticed I had more en­ergy and could work out longer in the gym.”

Er­rol, whose gym mem­ber­ship was paid for by his mother, said he was strug­gling to build mus­cles.

“I took the pro­tein pow­ders sold at the gym, but I didn’t see the de­sired re­sults until I took the tablet,” he said.

Zach Shea, 20, said he ob­tained mus­cle growth tablets on the In­ter­net af­ter see­ing his friends bulk­ing up.

“It cost RM25 per bot­tle, so it wasn’t that ex­pen­sive. I got the first batch from my col­lege mate and then I or­dered it on­line. It was just a pill you chew on. It tasted like a breath fresh­ener.”

He said the tablets made him feel more en­er­getic, al­low­ing him to put in more hours in his work­out rou­tine.

“I feel more en­er­getic. Al­though I take cof­fee in the morn­ing, what I got from the tablet is dif­fer­ent. I am more alert be­tween classes, too,” he said, adding that he now pre­ferred to walk to the gym be­cause he had more en­ergy.

Adrian (not his real name), 19, ob­tained his mus­cle growth sup­ple­ments from his gym.

“I’m not sure what the in­gre­di­ents are, but a bot­tle of 60 tablets cost RM260. My body looks the same, but I have more en­ergy to work out,” he said.

Adrian said he had al­ways had body im­age is­sues and wanted to mea­sure up to friends who had more mus­cu­lar bod­ies.

A stu­dent coun­sel­lor from a pri­vate col­lege in Subang Jaya, who wanted to be known only as Izzy, said many gym buffs were hang­ing out on the col­lege premises to pro­mote gym mem­ber­ships at a dis­counted rate.

“Many of th­ese boys don’t know what they are get­ting into. They want to look cool and ma­cho, so they get their par­ents to get gym mem­ber­ships for them.”

Izzy urged gyms to keep watch on col­lege kids and stop them from mak­ing “bad decisions”.

“Most are there be­cause they are in­se­cure about the way they look.

“They be­lieve they can boost their self-es­teem by mak­ing them­selves look buff.”

It cost RM25 per bot­tle, so it wasn’t that ex­pen­sive. I got the first batch from my col­lege mate and then I or­dered it on­line. It was just a pill you chew on. It tasted like a breath fresh­ener. ZACH SHEA Gym mem­ber Many of th­ese young boys don’t know what they are get­ting into. They want to look cool and ma­cho, so they get their par­ents to get gym mem­ber­ships for them. IZZY Stu­dent coun­sel­lor

Many body­builders put their health at risk by tak­ing an­abolic steroids be­cause they want fast mus­cle growth.

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