AUG 04, 2016 09:03 AM PDT

The Science of Performance Enhancing Drugs

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

The Summer Olympics are set to open in Rio this Friday. Yet, months before this, scandals emerged of drug doping among Olympians. Chief among these scandals were Russian athletes who purportedly used performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) against rules set by the International Olympic Committee and the World Anti-Doping Agency.

What are PEDs and how does it affect the body? PEDs are substances that have the potential to give athletes a boost in performance that would not otherwise be derived from natural training and skills. These drugs alter biological functions, such as increasing anabolic reactions to build up muscle and strength. Stimulants are also common in order to improve focus, reaction time, and counter fatigue.

While the "performance-enhancing" aspects of PEDs make these substances seemingly desirable, there are serious adverse effects too. PEDs that alter normal hormone levels can trigger baldness, shrunken testicles, and irregular menstrual cycles. Furthermore, some anabolic steroids alter bad cholesterol and increase heart and circulatory problems.
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
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