San Francisco, CA – Though the Giants’ Melky Cabrera has garnered media attention since testing positive for testosterone use in July, he is likely not the only baseball player using testosterone to make it in the “big leagues”. The use of testosterone is unfortunately rampant amongst athletes, across many sports and extending to the Olympics. As testing has become more prevalent, athletes have become more adept at avoiding detection. Altered anabolic “steroids” are easy to detect and have therefore become less popular; while testosterone — identical to what is naturally produced by the body — is much harder to detect, and much more widely used. Special ratio calculations, like the testosterone to epitestosterone ratio, will pick up some testosterone use, but will not detect off-season use, or the use of some fast-acting testosterone creams and gels. The newer carbon isotope ratio tests are more sensitive, but are not widely used due to limited availability and high cost.
Millions of dollars are already spent each year in an attempt to curb performance enhancement amongst athletes, yet the vast majority of use probably still passes under the radar. When a test does come back positive it is headline news: a steroid “scandal”.
On the other hand, testosterone is a prescription medication that, when used correctly under a doctor’s supervision, can provide great benefits to men with low testosterone production. It is also a highly controlled and regulated medication due to its potential for abuse amongst professional athletes. By limiting the number of prescriptions doctors write, the supply of testosterone for illegitimate use is limited. Unfortunately, men with a legitimate medical need for testosterone therapy pay the price in limited availability and higher costs. In addition, media attention on these pro-sports steroid scandals casts testosterone therapy in a poor light, discouraging men who could truly benefit from treatment from seeking it.
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Karron Power, M.D., M.P.H., is board certified under the American Board of Preventive Medicine and is a board diplomat with the American Board of Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine. She is a member of the American Association of Aesthetic Medicine and Surgery, the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine, the International Hormone Society, the California Academy of Preventive Medicine, and the American Medical Association. Dr. Power graduated from UCSF Medical School and earned a Master’s degree in Public Health with an Environmental Health focus from UC Berkeley.
Dr. Power has internship, residency, and fellowship training in Internal Medicine, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Dermatology, Aesthetic Medicine and Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine. Dr. Power received a Bachelor’s degree in Biology cum laude from Whittier College in 1992. She earned a Master’s degree in Public Health with an Environmental Health focus from the University of California, Berkeley. After graduating from the University of California, San Francisco Medical School in 1996, she served as Research Fellow in Dermatology. Dr. Power completed internship, residency, and fellowship programs in Internal Medicine and Occupational and Environmental Medicine, and then pursued further training in Aesthetic Medicine and Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine.
Dr. Power is a past Scholar of the Occupational Physicians’ Foundation and the John Stauffer Science Foundation. She has received awards from the Air Resources Board of California and from the Thai Research Foundation for her research in Environmental Medicine. Dr. Power is medical director of the Marin Laser Center and continues to serve as a research physician at the UCSF Human Exposure Laboratory, and as a medical-legal expert in environmental exposure and disease.