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Abuse Of Anabolic Steroids May Cause Kindey Damage November 4, 2009

Posted by Matt Brown in Chemical.
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As a general rule I think there is far too much scare-mongering going on when it comes to anabolic steroids.  In the public’s imagination steroids occupy a space somewhere between pedophiles and Nazi’s on the list of things we love to hate.  This is especially true in regards to sports and is fueled in part by the sports media as in their opinion it taints the so-called purity of their sport (and you know what I think of that.)  When it comes to the actual science however, steroids are really nothing to get too worked up over.  Don’t get me wrong, they are drugs and like any drug they can have some serious side effects but in comparison to some of the harder substances their side effects are moderate and almost always temporary (i.e. they stop when you stop taking them.)  So when I saw this story about steroids contributing to kidney disease I was naturally a little skeptical.

The study followed ten bodybuilders, all steroid users, and looked for signs of renal damage.  All ten of them had elevated levels of creatinine and proteinuria as well as glomerular and tubulointerstitial scarring.  When a follow up was conducted, one had died of  kidney failure, another was well on his way and the rest had discontinued steroid use, lessened their amount of exercise and were in much better health.

Seems pretty straight forward, right?  Well, no.  The study actually admits a very important point right in the article; bodybuilders typically have signs of kidney damage.  A large amount of lean muscle naturally leads to larger amounts of creatinine in the urine and the high protein diet and exercise regimen of most bodybuilders can also strain the kidney’s.  As such, it’s not clear if the kidney damage results from the steroid use or from the lean muscle mass it produces.

What ever the case may be it does seem clear that steroid users, for whatever reason, are at a higher risk for kidney damage than the rest of us. You have been warned.


Magnets May Enhance Learning November 2, 2009

Posted by Matt Brown in Cognition, Human Enhancement.
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Yeah I know, I’ve heard all that magnet therapy crap before too and most of it is indeed crap.  But this story comes from a group at the University of British Columbia, not exactly a fringe group.  A study conducted by researchers there found that a magnetic pulse delivered to the premotor cortex improved the ability of the brain to learn a task and remember it.  Scientists are suggesting that this could be a step toward a “thinking cap.”