The Salt Lake City-County Health Department has issued a warning about an annual epidemic that reaches its peak as part of the football season.

It's the abuse of protein supplements, especially prevalent among young men with visions of successful football careers."One of the unnecessary, and possibly dangerous things, these young men do is make the assumption that protein supplements will facilitate muscle building. Not true," said Dr. Harry Gibbons, department executive director. "They not only are not necessary, but can be harmful to one's health."

Gibbons quoted "The Physician and Sportsmedicine" (ecember 1987 edition), which states that only an additional 10 grams of dietary protein is needed for even maximum muscle growth. That amount can be obtained from a cup of skim milk.

The same report states there is evidence that excess protein intake may actually inhibit muscle growth.

"Those parents, coaches or trainers who recommend the use of steroids or growth hormones for muscle building are guilty of youth abuse," Gibbons stressed. "If one takes in excess proteins, they are broken down and eliminated by the kidneys. It is even possible to get so much excess protein that liver and kidney damage can occur."

Protein supplements, Gibbons emphasized, may be harmful and are not necessary or helpful. "But they do have a certain dietary factor, namely, those who sell them eat better if you buy their product," he said.

For more information, contact Gibbons at 534-4599.