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University of Michigan Health Minute

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copyright 2001 University of Michigan Health System

August 6, 2001


A University of Michigan Health Minute update on important health issues

Big muscles now may mean big health problems later

U-M physicians warn athletes about the harmful side effects of sports supplements and steroids


Sports supplements may be a quick fix to add muscle, speed and bulk.

But physicians at the University of Michigan Health System say there?s no telling what the long-term effects of over-the-counter powders and pills will be on the body.

?A major problem with many supplements is the fact that they?re not controlled by the government,? says Edward Wojtys, M.D., director of the U-M Health System?s MedSport and associate professor of orthopaedic surgery at the U-M Medical School. ?So, many times when you buy something off the shelf, you really don?t know what you?re putting into your body. And to me, that?s very scary.?

Athletes using steroids or hormones to add muscle are playing an even more dangerous game with their health, Wojtys says. And concerns are growing. One alarming study reported that adolescent use of steroids is on the rise, according to The National Institute on Drug Abuse.

?The over-the-counter supplements can be as dangerous as a controlled substance,? Wojtys says. ?That?s important to recognize, that many of these things have not been studied adequately. We don?t have long term studies on what they do to the body. So it really is a little bit like Russian Roulette.?


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