While today's New York Times article is titled "A Focus on the Effects of Dietary Supplements Among Troops in War Zones," the article actually discusses the use performance-enhancing (PE) supplements meant to build and maintain muscle mass quickly by our U.S. troops. At first glance I thought the article might talk about Vitamin D or Calcium intake; a poor editorial title choice if you ask me.
These PE supplements have been clearly linked to heart problems and several deaths, and military health experts are concerned that the conditions of deployment (e.g. hot climate, increased stress, high activity) might create a heightened risk for these serious health outcomes.
While performance-enhancing drugs carry with them health risks (many of which have only recently been acknowledged), they also do increase strength, endurance, and help users fight muscle fatigue. It seems to me that these are desirable outcomes for men and women who will be fighting insurgents and charged with strenuous tasks that require peak performance.
This will be a difficult decision for those in the Secretary of Defense. Surveillance of PE supplement use and associated health outcomes should be integrated into the military health system if they are serious about understanding the scope of the problem.
What do you think should be done?