Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Woman On Steroids Reveals Dangerous Side Effects

Video: See Impact Of Steroids On Women

BALTIMORE -- More and more women are abusing steroids to get fit and the results can be dangerous and disturbing to see.

One woman told her story to WBAL TV 11 News I-Team reporter Deborah Weiner and said it's too late for her to stop.

Peggy, who didn't want 11 News to broadcast her real name, said she is addicted to anabolic steroids, which are synthetic male hormones.

Peggy said as a young woman she was a marathon runner battling an eating disorder. She wanted toned muscles, not fat, and a six-week trial of oral steroids turned into a life obsession.

"It's that insecurity that I think all teens and young women have -- that they're not good enough. And I thought the steroids would make me good enough. But they took 25 years of my life," she said.

""What do you see when you look in the mirror?" Weiner asked Peggy.

"You totally lose sight of who you are. I walked into a locker room -- a woman's dressing room -- and someone said I was in the wrong locker room," she responded.

Peggy asked that 11 News not give away her identity because she is a licensed medical professional who could lose her job.

Since she began using steroids, Peggy said she has spent thousands of dollars on plastic surgery to correct an enlarged Adam's apple and man-sized bones in her face -- the result of abusing the growth hormones.

Peggy's hands are bigger than the average woman's. And even though the steroids made her stronger as she competed as a bodybuilder, her frame is currently giving out.

She has three bulging lumbar discs and ruptured tendons in her biceps. She said she is in constant pain.

"I got incredibly strong, but these are not side effects young women would want. Plus, the voice -- my voice lowered by three octaves," she said.

"(Female steroid abusers) get their desired effect physically, but it ain't no free lunch. They have to pay the price," said Dr. Bill Howard, the founder of Union Memorial's Sports Medicine Center.

Over the years, Howard said he has seen anabolic steroids become an equal opportunity drug.

"It starts with relatively young women -- high school and college age in their 20s and 30s," he said. "It helps them to lose weight because muscle has a higher metabolic rate than fat, so the more fat you burn, the better you look."

But the better you look, the sicker you can get, health officials said. Besides the visible side effects, women who abuse steroids also have an increased risk of heart and artery disease.

Howard said there's another undesirable side effect.

"They're just not very attractive. They're very nice people, but they don't look the way they should look at the age they ought to be," Howard said.

A former Mr. Maryland, who anonymously spoke with Weiner, said he injected steroids for 12 years and saw women buying them illegally right alongside him. He said they're very easy to get.

The day before Weiner interviewed Peggy, she said she had injected the popular underground steroid Masteron.

"It's very insidious how you go on and on, and before you know it, you take more powerful drugs and the side effects are not what you want," she said.

"Do you want to look more feminine?" Weiner asked her.

"I have gotten use to this neutral position -- not quite a woman, but not quite a man, either," she said.

There are both emotional and physical components of steroid addiction, health officials said. One of the most dangerous symptoms of withdrawal is depression.

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