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Anabolic steroids quick review
Hormone description: chemically and pharmacologically related to testosterone, an important class of biologic compounds in the body.
Health benefits: increase the body's ability to use protein to make muscle, help gain weight after a severe illness, injury, or continuing infection.
Side effects: liver tumors and cancer, jaundice, fluid retention, high blood pressure, increases in bad cholesterol, and decreases in good cholesterol.

Anabolic steroids

Anabolic steroids are chemically and pharmacologically related to testosterone. "Anabolic" refers to muscle-building. Steroids are an important class of biologic compounds in the body. Anabolic steroids are tissue mass-increasing steroids, which means they help build muscle. Testosterone is the best known natural anabolic steroid, as well as the best known natural androgen. Testosterone has a 17-carbon core, like its replication- the anabolic steroid, and is credited for the promotion of growth of skeletal muscles and the development of male sexual characteristics. Both males and females have testosterone produced in their bodies: males in the testes, and females in the ovaries and other tissues. Today, there are more than 100 varieties of anabolic steroids that have been developed, but only a limited number have been approved for human or veterinary use. Anabolic steroids are administered primarily in the oral and injectable forms, and needle sharing has been reported, especially among adolescents. Individuals who use anabolic steroids, particularly those experienced in weight training, will experience increases in strength and muscle significantly beyond those observed from training alone. They are widely used by athletes involved in such sports as track and field, weight lifting, and American football. The common street (slang) names for anabolic steroids include arnolds, gym candy, pumpers, roids, stackers, weight trainers, and juice.


Uses of anabolic steroids

Anabolic steroids are used to help patients gain weight after a severe illness, injury, or continuing infection. They also are used when patients fail to gain or maintain normal weight because of unexplained medical reasons. Anabolic steroids help treat certain types of anemia, breast cancer, and treat hereditary angioedema, which causes swelling of the face, arms, legs, throat, windpipe, bowels, or sexual organs. Anabolic steroids may be useful as part of an effective diet and exercise regimen to build and maintain weight.

Anabolic steroids enhance the anabolic properties (tissue building) of the androgens and minimize the androgenic (sex-linked) properties. Functions of testosterone include increased numbers of red blood cells, improved calcium deposition in the bones, muscle enlargement, increased body hair, thickening of vocal chords, and growth and development of the prostate gland.

The effect of anabolic steroids is to increase the body's ability to use protein to make muscle. Anabolic steroids help send the amino acids back to the muscles. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins needed by the muscles to grow. Anabolic steroids like testosterone help build muscles and discourage fat buildup. Anabolic steroids may block the binding of cortisol to its receptor sites, which would prevent muscle breakdown and enhances recovery. Anabolic steroids may block the effects of hormones such as cortisol involved in tissue breakdown during and after exercise. Cortisol causes protein breakdown and is secreted during exercise to enhance the use of proteins for fuel and to suppress inflammation that accompanies tissue injury.

For decades, anabolic steroids were the mainstay of therapy for hypoplastic anemias not due to nutrient deficiency, especially aplastic anemia. Anabolic steroids are slowly being replaced by synthetic protein hormones that selectively stimulate growth of blood cell precursors. Anabolic steroids have been given to people with chronic wasting conditions such as cancer and AIDS. Androgens are given to many boys distressed about extreme delay of puberty. Testosterone is now nearly the only androgen used for this purpose but synthetic anabolic steroids were often used prior to the 1980s.


Side effects of anabolic steroids

Anabolic steroid use can lead to a number of dangerous side effects including liver tumors and cancer, jaundice (yellowish pigmentation of skin, tissues, and body fluids), fluid retention, high blood pressure, increases in LDL (bad cholesterol), and decreases in HDL (good cholesterol). Other side effects include kidney tumors, severe acne, and trembling. People who inject steroids run the added risk of contracting or transmitting hepatitis or the virus (HIV) that leads to AIDS. In females, anabolic steroids have been associated with a number of adverse effects, some of which appear to be permanent even when drug use is stopped. These include menstrual abnormalities, deepening of voice, shrinkage of breasts, male-pattern baldness, and an increase in sex drive, acne, body hair and clitoris size. Younger steroid users, both male and female, are at risk of permanently halting their linear growth, which could result in shorter stature than nature had intended. An undetermined percentage of steroid abusers may become addicted to the drug, as evidenced by their continuing to take steroids in spite of physical problems, negative effects on social relations, or nervousness and irritability. Steroid users can experience withdrawal symptoms such as mood swings, fatigue, restlessness, and depression.