Rap is definitely a competitive sport — just ask 50 Cent. The brash (and buff) G-Unit star has taken aim at his detractors on more than one occasion through some unforgiving rhymes, targeting the likes of Ja Rule, the Game and others.
But to gain a one-up on his opponents, it's hard to imagine 50 would turn to steroids, as a New York newspaper article claimed through sources Monday. Why not just grab a dictionary instead?
Why exactly would revered entertainers like 50 — along with Mary J. Blige, Timbaland, Wyclef Jean and playwright/director Tyler Perry, according to the article — decide to use steroids or human growth hormone?
The answer may lie in rejuvenation.
According to the Albany Times Union story, Florida doctor Gary Bandwein allegedly shipped the goods to 50, Blige and company. According to the same report, steroids or HGH would be shipped for the artists to Long Island chiropractor Michael Diamond, who holds residency at New York gym Clay. Diamond — who had not been charged under any counts — happens to be an instructor of anti-aging and longevity medicine at the Manhattan fitness center
Experts believe, according to the article, that more entertainers are turning to "the unproven anti-aging effects of steroids."
According to Dr. Thomas Barnes, a Newport Beach cosmetic surgeon with more than 10 years of experience in the field, HGH, though controversial in some circles, has its benefits. Barnes said when people pass age 30 — especially entertainers — life begins to take its toll.
"With men, particularly, they start literally wasting away and aging," he said.
The thought is that HGH specifically brings levels of testosterone back up. Dr. Barnes said benefits can include thickening of the hair and skin and "a luster again in the eyes and basically helping the body look more vigorous."
The problem, though, Dr. Barnes admitted, is when steroids and HGH begin to be administered by physical trainers and not trained and licensed physicians.
Larger and dangerous doses may be prescribed by those without proper credentials, and if the body has an adverse reaction to the injection, there's no one to properly respond.
"It is a drug, and it really should be administered by someone who is licensed personnel," Dr. Barnes said. "It's easy for a trainer to give it, but when problems start, that's when the finger-pointing starts."
Dr. Thomas Perl, a professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine, begs to differ. Perl is the founder of AntiAgingQuackery.com, a site launched in 2005 to oppose the rhetoric of steroids and HGH's benefits. In rare instances, he explained, administering HGH makes sense; he listed short bowel syndrome and growth-hormone deficiency as those exceptions. Overall, however, he calls steroids and HGH cheap gimmicks, fraught with misleading information and too easily available online.
"Hormones are the darling of the anti-aging industry, because people generally equate the word with youth," Dr. Perl insisted. "And they think, 'Take a hormone. Oh, it makes me young again.'
"The irony is that animal studies show growth hormones actually decrease life span, they doesn't increase life span," he said. "It's all marketing. It's all a sale."
John Battaglia, an image consultant/ life coach who runs the Rockstar in You and has worked with Justin Timberlake and Usher, said the obsession with youthful images can sometimes counter an artist's primary goal: a long-term career.
"The music business is a young person's business, so there's certainly a premium on appearing young or appearing younger," he told MTV News. "So certainly people really can do a lot of different things — sometimes going to very extreme measures in their appearance — to be able to give a youthful image."
"I try to make people aware of the risks of pursuing courses of action that could have long-term effects," Battaglia later added. "What good is it if you appear younger this year, but then in five years, you have back problems, you can't walk straight and other things like that? What good is success if it can't last?"