When we think of steroids, many of us think of athletic scandals. We may be less likely to think of treatment for a child with asthma. Yet steroids are used for both performance enhancement and therapy as University of Wisconsin-Richland associate professor of history Dr. Aharon Zorea, author of a new book on steroids, points out.
Zorea’s most recent book, released April 30, is entitled Steroids. The book discusses ethical, medical, and social controversies surrounding steroid use. A book in the series Health and Medical Issues Today, his second in that series, it’s a resource for people researching health and exercise sciences, sports and sport-related fields, and medical science, social and ethical questions involved with the use of steroids in related fields.
The book is unique, Zorea said, because it talks about both the famous, performance-enhancing anabolic steroids and the therapeutic, inflammation-reducing catabolic steroids. Major issues related to the use of anabolic steroids are those of fairness and safety, as athletes experience pressure to risk their long-term health in order to remain competitive in their field. A major issue related to catabolic steroids is that they treat symptoms without curing the underlying problem. In the case of either type of steroids, he said, the primary consideration is the same: Do the short-term benefits outweigh the long-term risks?
Discussions of steroid use, including those in his book, often deal with topics that are highly controversial. “I take great pains,” he said, “to be as balanced as can be.”
This is the sixth book Zorea has written. “After the first one, each one gets easier,” he said. His process is to spend about a year researching, three months writing, then three months revising. The greatest challenge, he said, is visualizing the outline he wants. With each new book, he said, the process is more comfortable for him.
Because his specialty is public policy history, Zorea can apply a wealth of context to topics such as birth control, the subject of his 2012 book, and organized crime, capital punishment and crime policy, topics of his previous books.
While researching this book, he learned that it was research into steroids done in the 1940s and 1950s that served as the basis of many subsequent discoveries of medicines for heart and blood diseases and more. “It led to our pharmaceutical culture of today,” he said.
At UW-Richland, Zorea teaches an array of history courses. “Completing a thought that’s well supported and fully articulated, that’s satisfying,” he said. “In class, I do that, and it’s gone. When I do that in a book, it’s lasting. It’s satisfying to be contributing to knowledge, adding something new to the conversation.”
Zorea can be reached on campus by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (608) 647-6186, Extension 247.