Got muscles?

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:47

    SUSSEX COUNTY-A teen rolled into Doctor Yasim Sami's Sussex office with shoulders broad enough to land a 747 jet on. A red flag immediately went up in the veteran doctor's head. The boy had blood pressure exceeding 200, when a person his age should have a reading around 120. After some prodding by the doctor, the teen admitted he was using steroids. of steroid use. The boy is not an athlete, just a bodybuilder working out for vanity. Sami conducted an EKG of the boy's heart and found no defects. But, the doctor said, the boy is lucky. "I would agree that short-term gains are achievable," said Sami of the effect of steroids on the human body. "But those gains are far outweighed by the negatives that come from short- and long-term use." Steroids have been in the news a lot lately, thanks to public hearings involving their use in baseball held by a congressional committee. A lot was said about everyone's concerns for what the example of famous athletes could do to influence children, who are using steroids in high school in increasing numbers. The teen with high blood pressure isn't the first person Sami has seen with problems related to steroid use. The doctor says just the facts in any medical text book about the harm steroids do to a person should be enough to discourage people from using but it doesn't. Steroids can harm the endocrine system, the heart, cause strokes, and even lead to cancer, he explains. He even has a patient who admitted to use get incarcerated because of a "roid rage" that went a little too far at a local bar. "Steroids can give you emotional liability," the doctor of that patient. "He was overdoing it." But Sami says never has had an athletic walked through his doors and admit to doping. Neither has West Milford baseball coach Joe Trentacosta. "It's hard to say, but to my knowledge this hasn't happened in baseball at West Milford," the coach said. "We emphasize long, loose muscle training, not bulk and brute strength. There are signs that we look for like aggression due to testosterone levels." So what would he do if a player came to spring training with 30 pounds more lean muscle than he had the previous year - a pretty good sign of steroid use? "I would speak to him about his workout regiment," said Trentacosta. "Then address our off-season lifting program, which he should be following. I would ask him where he works out as well, in case I had to investigate further." Despite what coaches say, though, national statistics show that a percentage of high school athletes everywhere are on the "juice." But unless students brag about it, no one really knows for sure. Schools rarely if ever test because the cost for one of mass testing is beyond their means. According to the Centers for Disease Control, overall youth steroid use remains alarmingly high. According to the 1999 Monitoring the Future Study, the percentage of eighth, tenth, and twelfth graders who reported using steroids at least once in their lives increased steadily from 1.8 percent in 1996 to 2.8 percent in 1999. In the six years since then, the number has doubled. That's pretty frightening to think, knowing that steroids can cause deep depression in teens and even lead to suicide. But these are just the ones who admit use. Nobody really knows the true number. Despite the impression given during the congressional hearing, baseball is not alone in steroid use. The television show 60 Minutes recently linked members of the NFL's Carolina Panthers in using the drug illegally prescribed by a South Carolina doctor. The same congressional committee that conducted hearings into steroids in baseball has asked NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue for information about how football regulates the performance-enhancing substances. The Government Reform Committee also said it will ask for similar data from the NBA, NHL, NCAA, U.S. Track and Field and Major League Soccer. The NFL has had random testing for steroids for the past 15 years. A total of 44 players have been suspended during that period for using the performance-enhancing substances. Unlike marijuana, cocaine and other illegal drugs, steroids, although just as illegal as the others, can be ordered over the Internet and delivered to your door. And, with no testing in high school, what is the incentive for kids not to cheat? "Being healthy, " says Sami.