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Erythropoietin Abuse Among Athletes Can Lead to Vascular Problems
Erythropoietin abuse has been an ongoing problem in several sports. Now, a study from the Zurich Center for Integrative Human Physiology has found a link between erythropoietin abuse and vascular problems. Athletes are putting their lives at risk by taking this drug to enhance their performance.
Erythropoietin (EPO) is a hormone that is naturally found in the body. It is involved in red blood cell production and secreted from the kidneys. Through recombinant DNA technology, a synthetic version of this hormone is available for treatment of several disorders. It is usually prescribed for people who are suffering from anemia. However, athletes have been abusing this drug for decades to improve their performance.
Abuse in Sports
Erythropoietin is popular in skiing, cycling, running and other sports. Athletes use the synthetic version of the hormone to increase their red blood cell production, so more oxygen can be carried in the body. It is a simple way to improve endurance without spending extra time on training. Multiple detection tests have been created to stop the illegal use of erythropoietin by athletes.
Problems with EPO
If it is administered to patients suffering from a disorder that affects their red blood cell production, then erythropoietin problems tend to be limited. However, healthy athletes seeking a way to boost their performance can encounter serious complications from using this drug. EPO has been linked to the deaths of several cyclists who suffered from heart attacks.
Researchers were previously aware that erythropoietin abuse could cause strokes and heart attacks. A new study from the Zurich Center for Integrative Human Physiology has found a link between erythropoietin and vascular problems. In addition to the heart problems that can develop with the abuse of the synthetic hormone, it can lead to blood vessel problems in the brain.
The research indicates that erythropoietin abuse can affect blood pressure and constrict blood vessels. This dangerous combination can lead to the death of athletes who are taking EPO to improve their endurance. If an athlete is taking more than one drug to enhance performance, it can be even more dangerous. The Zurich Center for Integrative Human Physiology is encouraging more research on this topic.
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Lana has a B.S. degree in Biology and Chemistry. She is an avid athlete, youth coach and follows several sports. Follow @Lana_Bandoim on Twitter.
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