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Do Steroids Cause Uncontrollable Rage?

Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius has been charged with pre-meditated murder in the shooting death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. At his bail hearings, South African investigating officer Hilton Botha testified that he found two boxes of drugs that could be testosterone, and needles in Pistorius' bedroom.

PISTORIUS DENIES MURDER: Pistorius claims that he mistakenly killed Steenkamp when he fired four shots into a locked bathroom, hitting his girlfriend three times after thinking she was a burglar. The police claim that screams were heard after the first shot. Pistorius claims that the drugs found in his bedroom are herbal remedies. The world's most famous disabled athlete tested negative for drugs twice at the London Olympics last year on Aug. 25 and Sept. 8, 2012.

WHY SOME ATHLETES TAKE STEROIDS: Competitive athletes often take testosterone derivatives, also called steroids, because they help them recover faster from intense workouts so they can do more intense workouts sooner. This makes them stronger and faster. When a person takes a hard workout and exercises through the muscle burning, he damages his muscles. The next day, muscle soreness can prevent him from taking another intense workout for several days. However when he takes testosterone derivatives, he often recovers so fast that he can take another intense workout on the next day.

IS THERE SUCH A CONDITION AS STEROID RAGE? Some studies show that males who take steroids are more likely to be violent and to use other drugs (Am J Public Health. 2008;98 (12): 2185- 7). However the majority of men who use anabolic steroids do not commit violent acts (Sports medicine (Auckland, N.Z.) 1996;22(6): 367-90). Yet there is strong evidence that some men do become violent when they take steroids and have acted completely out of their normal behavior (Arch Gen Psychiatry, February 2000;57(2): 133-140).

HOW LONG ARE STEROIDS DETECTABLE? Steroids can be detected in a person's body from one week to over a year after use. AndroGel, a testosterone cream that is taken by rubbing on the skin, can be detected for up to five days after use. The most popular steroid, nandrolone, can be detected for up to a year. Injectable testosterone, that is suspected here, can be detected for up to three months. Police will need to get a court order to test him right away if they want to prove that he took steroids. Other forms of testosterone include testosterone propionate (detectable for up to two weeks), testosterone undecanoate (one week) and clenbuterol (four days).

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The Stroke Belt: "Southern" Diet Increases Stroke Risk

People who live in the southern U.S. are 20 percent more likely to suffer strokes than people who live in the rest of the country, probably because of their diet. A ten-year follow- up of more than 20,000 white and black adults over age 45 found that strokes are up to 60 percent more common in people whose daily diet includes:
• fried foods (fried chicken, French fries, hamburgers, bacon)
• processed meats such as hot dogs, bacon or ham
• sugared drinks (sweet tea, sodas)
• heavily salted foods such as greens cooked with ham

Participants who exercised, did not smoke, and ate plenty of fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains had markedly reduced risk for strokes (American Stroke Association annual meeting in Honolulu, Hawaii, Feb 7, 2013).

HOW THIS DIET CAN CAUSE STROKES: Frying causes sugar to attach to proteins or fats, to form AGE's, Advanced Glycation End Products (Circulation. 2006; 114: 597-605). AGEs damage the inner linings to arteries that causes plaques to form, which increases risk for heart attacks and strokes. All cooking methods that do not use water cause AGEs to form (broiling, frying, baking, roasting). Water-based cooking methods (steaming, simmering, boiling) are safer.

Foods with added sugars and all sugared drinks cause a high rise in blood sugar that causes sugar to attach to the outer surface of cell membranes. Once attached, sugar can never get off. It is eventually converted by a series of chemical reactions to sorbitol that destroys the cells. All sugared drinks increase risk for diabetes.

Not all people develop high blood pressure when they eat a lot of salt. The person most likely to have his blood pressure rise too high when he takes in too much salt is the one who has a high rise in blood sugar. High blood sugar causes the pancreas to release large amounts of insulin which constricts arteries to cause high blood pressure. Therefore diabetes and pre-diabetes (called metabolic syndrome) markedly increase your sensitivity to salt which increases your risk for developing high blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart attacks and strokes.

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Diet Drinks Linked to Increased Diabetes Risk

Many research papers show that sugar-sweetened drinks are a major risk factor for developing diabetes and heart attacks. Now, a study following more than 66,000 women for 14 years shows that drinking the same amount of diet drinks, flavored with artificial sweeteners, is more likely to be associated with the onset of diabetes than drinks that contain sugar (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Feb. 2013).

Sugared drinks increase diabetes risk by causing a high rise in blood sugar and adding additional calories to your daily intake.

The sweet taste of artificially-sweetened drinks has been shown to turn on the hunger centers in your brain so you eat more of other foods.

The study did not ask whether women who drink diet sodas are already more overweight and thus at greater risk for diabetes.

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This week's medical history:
Antonio Vivaldi’s Asthma

For a complete list of my medical history biographies go to Histories and Mysteries

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Recipe of the Week:

Roasted Veggie Bean Pot

You'll find lots of recipes and helpful tips in The Good Food Book
- it's FREE

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February 24th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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