We know the cycling industry has been using this synthetic drug for years and now our professional triathlon community has been exposed. With this news, TeamMOXi™ interest is to educate on the effects of EPO and provide information on what to look for in athletes you may suspect of banned substance use and natural options for achieving a more natural approach to achieving the same means.
First lets look at what EPO is and health risks associated with EPO
EPO’s Long Term Health Risks:
Erythropoietin (EPO) is a hormone produced by the kidneys that stimulates the production of red blood cells in the bone marrow. In medicine, EPO is used to treat anemia, which is a condition where the body does not produce enough red blood cells.
However, EPO has also been used by athletes as a performance-enhancing drug, as it can increase the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood and improve endurance. When used in this way, EPO can have significant long-term effects on the body.
One of the primary risks associated with using EPO as a performance-enhancing drug is the development of polycythemia, which is a condition characterized by an abnormally high number of red blood cells. This can cause the blood to become thick and viscous, which can increase the risk of blood clots, strokes, and heart attacks
If you are a coach & suspect an athlete using EPO; or like substances, the polycythemia signs to look for, are as follows:
Polycythemia is a condition in which the body produces too many red blood cells. The excess red blood cells can make the blood thicker and more viscous, which can increase the risk of blood clots and other complications. The physical symptoms of polycythemia can include:
- Headaches: Increased blood volume and thickness can cause headaches, particularly in the morning.
- Dizziness and lightheadedness: Increased blood thickness can cause a decrease in blood flow to the brain, leading to dizziness and lightheadedness.
- Fatigue: Decreased blood flow and oxygen delivery to tissues can cause fatigue and weakness.
- Shortness of breath: Increased blood viscosity can make it harder for the lungs to deliver oxygen to the body, leading to shortness of breath.
- Blurred vision: Increased blood viscosity can also affect blood flow to the eyes, leading to blurred vision or other vision problems.
- Itching or burning sensation, particularly after a warm bath or shower.
- Redness or a ruddy complexion, particularly in the face.
If left untreated, polycythemia can lead to serious complications such as blood clots, stroke, or heart attack.
It is important to seek medical attention if you experience any of these symptoms or suspect you may have polycythemia.
Additionally, the use of EPO can cause the body to produce excess amounts of hemoglobin, which can increase the risk of hypertension (high blood pressure) and other cardiovascular problems.
Long-term use of EPO can also lead to a condition known as erythropoietin-associated pure red cell aplasia (PRCA), which is a rare but serious condition characterized by the loss of red blood cell production in the bone marrow.
Overall, the use of EPO as a performance-enhancing drug can have serious long-term health consequences, and it should only be used under the guidance of a medical professional for legitimate medical purposes.
How does Iron affect EPO Production?
Iron is essential to produce red blood cells, which are responsible for carrying oxygen to different parts of the body. Erythropoietin is a hormone that regulates the production of red blood cells in the body.
When the body detects low levels of oxygen, it signals the kidneys to produce erythropoietin, which in turn stimulates the bone marrow to produce more red blood cells. Iron is a key component in the production of hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that binds to oxygen, and therefore, an adequate supply of iron is necessary for erythropoietin to effectively stimulate red blood cell production.
Without sufficient iron, the body cannot produce enough hemoglobin, which leads to a condition called anemia. Anemia can cause fatigue, weakness, and other symptoms because the body is not getting enough oxygen. In this way, iron is critical to erythropoietin production and overall red blood cell function.
What are the Top 5 cause for anemia?
Anemia is a condition in which the body does not have enough red blood cells or hemoglobin to transport oxygen to the body's tissues. Some of the top causes of anemia include:
- Iron deficiency: This is the most common cause of anemia. Iron is essential to produce hemoglobin, which carries oxygen in the blood. When there is not enough iron in the body, the bone marrow cannot produce enough hemoglobin and red blood cells.
- Vitamin deficiency: Deficiencies in vitamins like vitamin B12 and folate can lead to anemia. These vitamins are necessary to produce red blood cells, and a deficiency can interfere with the process.
- Chronic disease: Certain chronic diseases like cancer, kidney disease, and rheumatoid arthritis can interfere with the body's ability to produce red blood cells and lead to anemia.
- Blood loss: Significant blood loss due to injury, surgery, or heavy menstrual bleeding can cause anemia. Blood loss can reduce the number of red blood cells in the body and lower hemoglobin levels.
- Genetics: Some genetic conditions like sickle cell anemia and thalassemia can cause anemia. These conditions affect the production and lifespan of red blood cells, leading to a shortage of healthy red blood cells in the body.
How does EPO work in the Bone Marrow?
EPO works by binding to specific receptors on the surface of erythroid progenitor cells, which are immature red blood cells that are produced in the bone marrow.
When EPO binds to its receptor on erythroid progenitor cells, it activates a signaling pathway that promotes the survival, proliferation, and differentiation of these cells into mature red blood cells. This process is known as erythropoiesis.
EPO also stimulates the release of reticulocytes, which are immature red blood cells that have left the bone marrow and are circulating in the bloodstream. These reticulocytes then mature into fully functional red blood cells, which transport oxygen from the lungs to the body's tissues.
In summary, EPO works by binding to erythroid progenitor cells in the bone marrow, promoting their survival, proliferation, and differentiation into mature red blood cells, and stimulating the release of reticulocytes into the bloodstream. This process helps to maintain adequate levels of oxygen-carrying red blood cells in the body.
Since the kidneys is the EPO production source, how does dehydration affect EPO production?
Dehydration can have an impact on the production of erythropoietin (EPO), which is a hormone that regulates the production of red blood cells in the body.
When the body becomes dehydrated, the volume of blood decreases, and the concentration of red blood cells in the blood increases. This increased concentration of red blood cells can lead to a reduction in the production of EPO because the kidneys, which are responsible for producing EPO, sense that there are already enough red blood cells in circulation.
Dehydration can also lead to a decrease in blood flow to the kidneys, which can further reduce EPO production. Without sufficient EPO, the bone marrow cannot produce enough red blood cells to maintain normal oxygen delivery to the body's tissues, and this can lead to symptoms of anemia, including fatigue, weakness, and shortness of breath.
In summary, dehydration can reduce EPO production, which can lead to a decrease in the number of red blood cells and ultimately cause symptoms of anemia. It is essential to maintain proper hydration to support normal EPO production and ensure adequate oxygen delivery to the body's tissues. Maintaining adequate; to higher, levels of Iron may increase red blood cell activity and replication, ensuring higher blood oxygenation for maximum performance.