as long as there have been sports therehave been athletes in search of an advantage and of all of the ways toget a leg up these days professionals often turn to performance-enhancing drugs. you hearabout them in just about every sport. in the u.s. some of the best baseball playersof all time have been accused of using peds. american football players are regularlysuspended for failing drug tests. and of course lance armstrong famously,finally came clean about blood doping in 2012 vacating his seven tour de francevictories in the process. and then
there's the whole deer antler spraything. there's no shortage of ways athletestried to enhance their performance. some of them work but at high cost to their health, theirwealth and others just don't work at all. so which are whichand how do they work and not work? give me a few minutes and i'llgive you a few lessons in the science of why cheaters never win. we refer to them as drugs but mostperformance enhancers are really just
versions of the chemicals that youalready have in your body. these are the compounds that your bodyuses to build and heal itself and keep itself healthy. but by ramping up the levels that thesecompounds in the hopes of getting more out of your body you could end up putting yourself in aworld of hurt. hgh or human growth hormone is a good place to start. eventhough we all have it a lot of people have no idea what it is.your body produces hgh from the pituitary gland at the base of yourbrain.
it stimulates growth and celldevelopment and works with another hormone called insulin-like growth factor-1 also knownas igf1. hgh is converted into igf1 inthe liver and it has several effects throughout the body including increasingbone and muscle growth. the natural production of hgh peaks during teenageyears, starts to steadily decreased about the time you hit 30 and declines through the rest of yourlife. growth hormone does help regulate metabolism in adults but its mainpurpose is really to spur growth during
childhood. since 1985 an injectable form ofhgh has been produced synthetically and the us food and drug administrationapproved it to treat children with growth issues, genetic disorders, and kidney problems.for adults hgh might be prescribed for conditions like bone loss or highcholesterol or very rare pituitary tumors. despite its high cost; a month supply hghcan cost up to five thousand dollars. human growth hormone has become popularamong athletes looking for an edge. a big reason for this is that it isreally hard to detect since everyone's
body produces it. also hgh starts tobreak down within 30 minutes injection so even the best test can onlydetect it like through abnormally high levels of certain antibodies in the blood within 12 to 24hours. but here's the thing. for all the athletes and dozens ofsports who take hgh there's actually very little evidence that it provides any performance enhancement. hgh maystimulate muscle and bone growth but whether that translates into increasedpower strength or endurance is unclear. researchers in california recentlyconducted a review of 44 studies of
growth hormone in athletes. more than 300 volunteers and all thesestudies combined received injections of growth hormone for an average oftwenty days similar to a drug cycle that an eliteathlete might use. while those who receive the hgh instead of the placebodid increase their lean body mass by over two kilograms, there was nomeasurable increase in either their strength or their exercise capacity. there's been all of one study thatreported a positive effect of growth hormone on athletic performance.
at the university of queensland inaustralia scientist in 2010 study 103 recreational athletes and found thatwhile those taking hgh showed no improvement in strength or generalfitness, their sprinting times on a bicycleimproved by 4%. that's all. not a huge difference but in a competitive event 4% could represent the difference between winningthe gold and finishing last. what several other studies did find and whatanti-doping agencies have discovered is that the performance does improve when hgh is used withtestosterone and you know the call
derivatives of the hormonetestosterone? if you said anabolic steroid then youwin a gold medal of your own. we've talked about steroids before but it's kindof impossible to talk about performance enhancers without touching on them again.steroids are a kinda lipid or fat molecule your body makes two very different types.one can you might be familiar with are corticosteroids. their hormone produced by your adrenalglands down there on your kidneys and they're handy at things like immunefunction, stress response, and controlling inflammation.
you may have been prescribed medicationsthat are synthetic versions these steroids to treat joint injuries or an auto-immune diseaseor just a really bad poison ivy rash which is why i took it. the otherkind of steroids are androgenic anabolic steroids. the mainone of these is testosterone which as you know produces male sexcharacteristics. but the steroids also include compoundsthat stimulate the synthesis of proteins and eventually new muscle fibers. this process is called anabolism and steroids that drive it
are anabolic steroids. when syntheticversions are these bad boys are used illegally by athletes actually abusedmight be the better term here the combination of steroids andexercise can increase a man's strength by more than 38 percent and its at least that high for women.anabolic steroids can be freakishly efficient especially when the user takemore than one. doping athletes generally take steroidsin cycles lasting between one and three months when strength training in theoffseason this is also when they're less likely toget tested. when injected or swallowed
these steroids travel to muscle tissuewhere they attached to receptors on the membranes have muscle cells. the receptorsdeliver the steroid hormones to the nucleus of the cells where they stimulate anabolism asynthesis of proteins. but anabolic steroids also carry with them some crazy sideeffects. not only do raised testosterone levels often lead to increasedaggression and sex drive but they can also strangely enough lead to shrinking testicles, impotence,and heart damage. in women steroids can cause facial hair growth,
acne, liver damage, breast reduction, andchanges to or total stopping of the menstrual cycle. now that you are wondering what i canassure you that this body is completely steroid free. i mean do i have to list the side effect again?don't do that. also if you're more into aerobic activities especiallycompetitive bicycle racing can i suggest that you not partake in blood doping? bicyclists and other endurance athleteswill often use anabolic steroids but blood doping is becoming more and morecommon in large part
because it's harder to detect. this kind of doping generally works in one of two ways. either through direct bloodtransfusions in many cases athletes use their own blood, or through injections a synthetic formother through erythropoietin or epo a hormone that controls the body'sproduction of red blood cells in both cases the goal is the same to increasethe number red blood cells in the body to increase physical stamina. red blood cells use a protein calledhemoglobin to bind with oxygen and delivered throughout your body.
since your body uses up to 20 times moreoxygen during strenuous exercise then while resting if you can raise your red blood cellcount by having more blood or with epo your tissues can keep getting the oxygen.they need and you can keep cycling or whatever for a lot longer. and before youknow it you've won the world's most famous bicycle race by cheating. the dangerous world of pedsis of course not limited to hgh steroids and blood doping. the longer you look the stranger thestories you will hear of athletes
attempting to get an edge. this includes baseball player mannyramirez who in 2009 was suspended for 50 games after testing positive for humanchorionic gonadotropin. a hormone that women produce duringpregnancy. turns out it also boost testosteronelevels in men and can increase sperm production. ironically many steroid userstake hcg after developing fertility peds also aren't limited tosports where the competitors aim to be stronger or faster. in 2008 a member the north korean olympic teamwas stripped of two medals after testing
positive for propranolol. propranolol is a drug used to treat hypertension andprevent trembling. the sport in question, shooting.similar ped use is also a problem in the archery world where shaky hands can leadto poor performance. and then there's deer antler spray. a ped that youprobably didn't know existed until 2012. that's when nfl player ray lewisadmitted to using the stuff in the hopes of speeding his recovery after tearing abicep. the velvety tissue on young deer antlers contains high levels ofgrowth hormone igf1 that i mentioned earlier
this is partly what makes antlers growso quickly some companies claim that they can extract this hormone from thetissue and then put it in a spray that can be administered under the tongue. you will no doubt beshocked to hear that there's no evidence that igf1 of one can be successfullydelivered in a pill or spray form even if the hormone comes from the antlersand some super deer in new zealand and yet deer antler spray has fastbecome one of the more popular supplements on the market. so here is myadvice to all the athletes out there if the choice is between injecting yourself with synthetic testosterone that makes
you sterile and unable to have sex changing the amount of blood you have inyour body or buying some crazy concoctions supposedly made from a deer'shead and putting it under your tongue irecommend choosing none of the above. thanks for watching this episode ofsci-show extra special thanks to our subable supporters without whom we couldnot do this. if you have any questions or comments or ideasfor us were down in the comments below or on facebook and twitter and if youwant to keep getting smarter with us you can go to youtube.com/scishow and subscribe