Anabolic Steroids


Anabolic steroids are performance enhancing drugs. They are a
synthetic form of the chemical testosterone that is normally found in the body.
By taking anabolic steroids, a person\'s testosterone level can be raised up to a
hundred times more than the usual amount of 2.5 to 10 mg. Per day. The increase
in testosterone increases anabolic activity, which results in greater muscle
bulk. It also increases protein synthesis and androgenic activity (enhanced
secondary sexual characteristics) in males. The users of steroids want to
increase the anabolic effects and reduce the androgenic effects, but no steroid
is known to have just anabolic effects.


Anabolic steroids can be taken in two ways, by injection or they can be
taken orally. Both oral and injected steroids carry benefits and adverse
effects. Orally taken steroids are well absorbed into the stomach and they are
excreted fairly rapidly. The bad side of taking oral steroids is that they are
more toxic than injected steroids. They are highly potent, which makes the risk
of overdosing very high. Steroids that are injected are less toxic to the liver
and are less potent than oral steroids on an equal dosage basis. Injected
steroids have a delayed take up, which makes them last longer. It also allows
them to be detected in drug tests for a longer period of time.

How they work in the body:

When anabolic steroids are introduced into the body, under certain
conditions they increase: protein synthesis, lean body mass, and the nitrogen
balance in the body. A steroid receptor is formed which stimulates the
synthesis of enzymes. With the stimulus of enzymes in the body, protein
synthesis is also increased. One enzyme system that is placed into the body by
the receptor is the ribonucleic acid (RNA)-polymerose system. This system
promotes cellular protein metabolism and synthesis which utilizes nitrogen. By
utilizing the nitrogen, the anabolic action is increased, which leads to larger
muscle size and strength. Anabolic steroids also increase nitrogen retention in
the body. They move the nitrogen equilibrium to the positive side. This allows
the body to utilize ingested protein better, but the balance does not last
forever. The body\'s homeostatic mechanisms regulate the balance and change it
back to normal. This is one set back to anabolic steroid use. In order to gain
lean body mass a person may have to eat up to 10,000 calories / day and must
continue a rigorous weight training program. If this is not followed, taking
the steroids would be worthless.

Adverse Effects:

Despite the increase in muscle size and strength, anabolic steroids
carry an even greater risk, the side effects. The side effects can be permanent
or even deadly. Serious side effects are seen in the liver, the cardiovascular,
central nervous and reproductive/endocrine systems.
One major side effect that can be found in the liver is hepatotoxicity.
This is the poisoning of the liver. It shuts down the liver\'s ability to
process blood, which in turn shuts down the whole body. Prolonged use of
anabolic steroids can cause cholestosis and jaundice (yellowish coloring of the
eyes, skin and body fluids). Even though most adverse side effects in the liver
are reversible upon discontinuation of steroids, fatalities can occur. The
fatalities occur from hepatic cholestosis, liver tumors or peliosis hepatitis
(blood filled cysts that can rupture and cause bleeding and liver failure).
Very noticeable effects occur in the reproductive system. In males the
testicles shrink by about 20%. They become impotent. Their sperm count can
decrease by 90%. Also gynecomastia can be seen in males. Gynecomastia is the
enlargement of the breasts. One adverse effect that can be seen in both males
and females using steroids is inappropriate hair growth. In females, anabolic
steroids can cause irregularities in their menstrual cycles. It causes the
female voice to deepen and clitoral hypertrophy. Clitoral hypertrophy is the
enlargement of the clitoris. Many of these things are irreversible, but some
can be changed with the discontinuation of steroid use.
In the cardiovascular system adverse effects can be very deadly. When
taking steroids an increase in LDL (low density lipoprotein) cholesterol and a
decrease in HDL (high density lipoprotein) cholesterol occurs in the bloodstream.
This can carry a risk of coronary heart disease and myocardial infarctions.
They can also cause retention of fluids. High blood pressure can cause an
increased risk of congestive heart failure and strokes.
The adverse effects in the musculoskeletal systems are not life
threatening, but they are very noticeable. Younger steroids users can have a
premature closure of the epiphyses (growth plates) in the long bones. This
irreversibly limits the full adult height potential. With the use of steroids,
muscle/tendon strength changes. The