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CHHS Represented at Steroid Summit

October 21, 2005

Students, coaches, athletic directors and others from at least 36 Westchester high schools, including Croton Harmon High School,will be learning about the pitfalls of steroid use and about healthy alternatives at the Westchester County Summit on Steroids and Other Athletic Performance-Enhancing Supplements. The event will take place Monday, Oct. 24, from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the Westchester County Center in White Plains.

The Summit is part of an initiative of County Executive Andy Spano, who reacted to the growing use of dangerous supplements nationwide and apparently in Westchester.

“This is not just about boys and athletes,” said Spano. “We know non-athletes of both sexes are taking supplements to help their ‘body image.’ We need to make sure our youth – and the influential adults in their lives – understand how dangerous these supplements are.”

The Oct. 24 summit will bring together high school athletes and school leaders, athletic directors, coaches, physical education teachers, health teachers, principals, health professionals and trainers.

The event will feature a panel of experts to discuss the problem and then small breakout groups (i.e. students, coaches, teachers, etc.). The panel discussion will be moderated by Commissioner of Health Dr. Joshua Lipsman. Slated to present are substance abuse specialists, sports medicine physicians, a physical therapist and a professional fitness trainer who will cover topics such as the dangers of steroids and other athletic performance enhancing products, how to recognize signs and symptoms of product use, methods for coaches to discourage use of such products and healthy ways to achieve desired fitness or body image.

The speakers are:

  • Steven S. Kipnis, medical director of the New York State Office of Alcoholism & Substance Abuse Services — the dangers of prescription stimulants and the hazards of possible interactions with street drugs such as alcohol and marijuana.
  • Jonathan Weinstein, director of the Hudson Valley Poison Education Center, Phelps Memorial Hospital Center — the risks associated with using non-prescription stimulants and diuretics.
  • Eric Small, sports medicine specialist and chairman of American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Sports Medicine & Fitness — the dangers of steroids and other athletic performance-enhancing products and how to recognize signs and symptoms of product use.
  • Paul Burke, a former body building champion and author of Fit Over Forty — his personal story of using then legal steroids and the negative health effects these products have had on him.
  • Dania A. Sweitzer, director, Pleasantville Physical Therapy & Sports Care and former captain of the University of Miami swim team — healthy ways to achieve desired fitness or body image and methods for coaches to discourage use of steroids and other athletic performance-enhancing products.

The Summit is a joint effort of the County Executive’s Office, the Department of Health and the county’s Office of Drug Prevention and Stop-DWI.

The steroid initiative will also include other events throughout the year to educate parents and health professionals and the staffs of dance studios, health food stores and health clubs. The series of activities will attempt to find solutions to this multi-faceted problem that is fueled by professional sports and the pressure to excel.

“We need the participation of health food and supplement stores, fitness clubs, trainers, schools, parents, law enforcement officials, community coalitions and students themselves to help tackle this problem,” Spano said. “Our goal is to reach out to many areas in our community to make sure they understand that these products are dangerous and in some instances illegal.”

“While steroids can cause serious health problems in anyone who uses them, they pose a special danger to adolescents,” said Dr Lipsman. “The use of these products can cause high blood pressure, heart disease and liver damage. Steroids have also been shown to stop growth too soon and cause severe acne, aggressive behavior and depression.”

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