Anabolic Steroids, Growth Hormone and other ‘bad boys!’

There is nothing like perception getting in the way of reality.  ‘Facts’ derived from every Tom, Dick and Harry’s consensus(es) aren’t facts at all but this is now becoming a common means of establishing ‘facts’ in a world that is becoming less careful about how it uses science to establish what is true and what is a lie.

Now, it is simply a matter that if enough people believe something, it becomes an ‘established fact.’  We’ve seen this well demonstrated in the carbon dioxide and global warming ‘debate’ but it is just as insidious in the public’s and the authorities’ position on anabolic steroids and growth hormone (GH). Testosterone and GH are described by government and sporting bodies as ‘Performance and Image Enhancing Drugs.’ Of course they are not! They are hormones that are normally produced by the body and are essential for optimal health. They decline with age- sometimes starting quite early in one’s life- and there is growing evidence that if levels are restored to those of a healthy young adult that many of the aging maladies, osteoporosis, loss of lean muscle mass, the accumulation of body fat, memory loss and brain dysfunction, and cardiovascular disease, for example, can be delayed.

Why have they become so misunderstood and vilified? As is often the case, it has nothing to do with factual information but rather these hormones were classified as ‘dangerous drugs’ for political purposes. The lobbying power of sporting organizations which led to these hormones being placed into the same class of substances such as opium came about through the misguided attempts of the US Senate in the mid-seventies to come up with a solution to deal with the widespread use of these hormones by the Soviet athletes in the the Olympics. Rather than listen to sane medical advice which was not to classify these hormones as dangerous and thus requiring laws to place severe limitations on their general use, the Senate caved in to the pleas of the various sporting organizations who were afraid that the US would face constant losses against athletes with superior chemically derived prowess- athletes from the Soviet Union who were on steroids.

These are typical knee jerk reactions by politicians which, as we often experience, have unintended consequences. First, testosterone` and GH were readily available to the public and were not considered dangerous. Insulin and thyroid hormones are far more dangerous than either of these two hormones. GH has almost no side-effects when used appropriately and even in far larger than typical doses, there are few serious consequences. You can’t even say that about sugar or salt, or for that matter, pure water. Testosterone has been shown over and over again to be safe and helpful in managing many of the signs and symptoms of aging. This is turning out to be the case for the new class of medications – the Peptides. Clinical trials so far have attested to their short term safety. It is too soon to say that they have no long term consequences which is an argument put forward by the Australian regulator of drugs, the TGA. That argument was not powerful enough though to stop the introduction of cholesterol lowering drugs which had absolutely no long term data and in which the short term data on their use in animals showed that they were, in fact, deadly. The power of the drug companies is such that drugs that have little or no real clinical use can be approved in short order when championed by Big Pharma for wide public use, but substances like peptides, anabolic steroids and GH are restricted to small groups. They may be championed by small business entities that do not have the financial means to do the relevant studies for them to gain approval  by the TGA or other authorities for wider general use.

Moreover, when the government restricts substances they find another means of getting to market -via the Black Market. The tragedy of this is that the price skyrockets and even legitimate prescribing through a registered pharmacy will still mean that the price for the medications will be exorbitant due to their scarcity . On top of that, unrestricted use with no medical monitoring by the thousands upon thousands of individuals in Australia who regularly use these substances means that people are putting themselves at some risk, while paying far too much for medicines of questionable quality, and in the end, they make unreasonable profits for the sellers in this Black Market. The government misses out on tax revenue. There are no real winners in this case- the average male at some point in his life could well do with their widespread and general use, especially when compared to the absolute worthlessness of statins and many other commonly prescribed drugs yet he finds it difficult to find prescribers who are willing to help him.

The public is constantly being misinformed about the use of PIEDs – which leads to an obvious question. Why are they singled out and allocated to this clearly special category when used by men  -Performance and Image Enhancing Drugs? Hormones for women in the form of oral contraceptives or for treatment of menopause have absolutely no restrictions placed on them. Interesting!