Steroids: Wonder Drug? How the Pursuit of Clean Sports Cost People Better Health
Many diseases supposedly linked to steroid use in adults simply do not occur, says Steven Kotler. Steroids are, however, great at combating HIV/AIDS and as an anti-aging too.
Steven Kotler is an award-winning journalist, a New York Times bestselling author, and co-founder and director of research for the Flow Genome Project. His books include the non-fiction works The Rise of Superman, Abundance, A Small Furry Prayer, West of Jesus, and the novel The Angle Quickest for Flight. His works have been translated into over 30 languages. His articles have appeared in over 60 publications, including The Atlantic Monthly, Wired, GQ, Popular Science, and Discover.
His latest book, co-authored with tech CEO Peter Diamandis, is Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World.
Steven Kotler: I had no interest whatsoever in steroids. I got involved in this because an editor who is a friend of mine called me up and said Jose Canseco just wrote this crazy book where he said steroids are the wonder drug of tomorrow. And I said look man, I am not much of a baseball fan. It kind of bores me and everybody knows steroids are terrible for you. Canseco’s out of his mind. There’s no way – like you’re wasting my time. And he said, you know, it was very, very convincing. He said I’ll pay you to do the research. I was like absolutely I’m in. So I started looking at it and I just started I said okay, I’m just going to read – I’m going to go back ten years and read the articles in major journals – The New England Journal of Medicine, Science, Nature – that kind of thing. I’m not even going to go that deep. Very very quickly what I started to discover is every single thing I thought I knew about steroids was wrong. Every crazy disease these drugs had been linked to have nothing to do with it. I’ll give you a phenomenal example. Steroids were linked to liver cancer, liver problems, right. It had nothing to do with the steroid. It has to do with the coating they put around the steroid so it could pass through the stomach and get into your bloodstream. That was what was causing the problems. That coating has obviously since been replaced. But Nick Evans who’s at UCLA is the only person literally in history whose ever done long-term steroid studies, right. Long term abusers. Body builders, double and triple stacking steroids for 10, 20 years at a time.
None of the things we’ve been told about are real. The only danger he found is since the heart is a muscle there is a certain point if you’re taking massive massive doses over long periods of time it can expand it, it can grow, right and grow bigger than the blood vessels and the ventricles and what not which would be a problem. And this doesn’t mean, by the way, when teenagers use steroids, right, when you’re still producing lots of these substances it’s an absolute disaster, right. That’s bad news. But in adults everything we’ve been told tends to be wrong and some of what we’ve been told costs millions of lives, right. It turns out steroids are phenomenal, phenomenal in fighting back AIDS. They’re really, really, really good. Nobody wanted to talk about it. When doctors started treating AIDS patients with it the guy who started doing this was a guy named Walter Jekot. The government jumped in and put him in jail for five years. He scared the hell out of a ton of doctors and the result of this kind of us trying to keep sports pure and, you know, preserve the competitive advantage has been millions of people died as a result. So not only is everything you’ve been told about steroids wrong, but there were a lot of consequences. The people who have been at the forefront of this and kind of pushing it forward is the life extension community, right. Our hormones decline as we age so the idea here is we can replace them. And they’ve been working on this stuff for 10, 15 years at this point with some success. It is now one of five or six different ways people are attacking aging, right, and fighting back death. But one thing seems to be sure. Since Google’s in the anti-death game, right, Peter Diamandis, my partner, in Bold and Abundance has human longevity incorporated there in the life extension game. There are big companies, massive amounts of resources getting involved and steroids are a piece of this puzzle. And I think we’re going to have to as a country rethink our position on these drugs and anti-aging stuff is going to force us to do it.
Perhaps our pursuit of drug-free sports went a little too far. Many diseases supposedly linked to steroid use in adults simply do not occur, says Steven Kotler. Steroids are, however, great at combating HIV/AIDS and as an anti-aging too.
Explore how alcohol affects your brain, from the first sip at the bar to life-long drinking habits.
- Alcohol is the world's most popular drug and has been a part of human culture for at least 9,000 years.
- Alcohol's effects on the brain range from temporarily limiting mental activity to sustained brain damage, depending on levels consumed and frequency of use.
- Understanding how alcohol affects your brain can help you determine what drinking habits are best for you.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx a team of DNA sequencers has figured that out.
- A team at UMass Amherst recently sequenced the genome of the Canadian lynx.
- It's part of a project intending to sequence the genome of every vertebrate in the world.
- Conservationists interested in the Canadian lynx have a new tool to work with.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx, I can now—as of this month—point you directly to the DNA of a Canadian lynx, and say, "That's what makes a lynx a lynx." The genome was sequenced by a team at UMass Amherst, and it's one of 15 animals whose genomes have been sequenced by the Vertebrate Genomes Project, whose stated goal is to sequence the genome of all 66,000 vertebrate species in the world.
Sequencing the genome of a particular species of an animal is important in terms of preserving genetic diversity. Future generations don't necessarily have to worry about our memory of the Canadian Lynx warping the way hearsay warped perception a long time ago.
Artwork: Guillaume le Clerc / Wikimedia Commons
13th-century fantastical depiction of an elephant.
It is easy to see how one can look at 66,000 genomic sequences stored away as being the analogous equivalent of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. It is a potential tool for future conservationists.
But what are the practicalities of sequencing the genome of a lynx beyond engaging with broad bioethical questions? As the animal's habitat shrinks and Earth warms, the Canadian lynx is demonstrating less genetic diversity. Cross-breeding with bobcats in some portions of the lynx's habitat also represents a challenge to the lynx's genetic makeup. The two themselves are also linked: warming climates could drive Canadian lynxes to cross-breed with bobcats.
John Organ, chief of the U.S. Geological Survey's Cooperative Fish and Wildlife units, said to MassLive that the results of the sequencing "can help us look at land conservation strategies to help maintain lynx on the landscape."
What does DNA have to do with land conservation strategies? Consider the fact that the food found in a landscape, the toxins found in a landscape, or the exposure to drugs can have an impact on genetic activity. That potential change can be transmitted down the generative line. If you know exactly how a lynx's DNA is impacted by something, then the environment they occupy can be fine-tuned to meet the needs of the lynx and any other creature that happens to inhabit that particular portion of the earth.
Given that the Trump administration is considering withdrawing protection for the Canadian lynx, a move that caught scientists by surprise, it is worth having as much information on hand as possible for those who have an interest in preserving the health of this creature—all the way down to the building blocks of a lynx's life.
The exploding popularity of the keto diet puts a less used veggie into the spotlight.
- The cauliflower is a vegetable of choice if you're on the keto diet.
- The plant is low in carbs and can replace potatoes, rice and pasta.
- It can be eaten both raw and cooked for different benefits.
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