Loading... Please wait...

Our Newsletter


Sort by:

Androgenic Anabolic Steroids

Anabolic steroids, technically known as anabolic-androgen steroids (AAS) or colloquially as "steroids" (or even "roids"), are drugs that mimic the effects of testosterone and dihydrotestosterone in the body. They increase protein synthesis within cells, which results in the buildup of cellular tissue (anabolism), especially in muscles. Anabolic steroids also have androgenic and virilizing properties, including the development and maintenance of masculine characteristics such as the growth of the vocal cords, testicles, and body hair (secondary sexual characteristics).

Health risks can be produced by long-term use or excessive doses of anabolic steroids. These effects include harmful changes in cholesterol levels (increased low-density lipoprotein and decreased high-density lipoprotein), acne, high blood pressure, liver damage (mainly with oral steroids), dangerous changes in the structure of the left ventricle of the heart. Conditions pertaining to hormonal imbalances such as gynecomastia and testicular atrophy may also be caused by anabolic steroids.

Ergogenic uses for anabolic steroids in sports, racing, and bodybuilding are controversial because of their adverse effects and the potential to gain an advantage conventionally considered "cheating." Their use is referred to as doping and banned by all major sporting bodies. For many years, AAS have been by far the most detected doping substances in IOC-accredited laboratories.

The effect of anabolic steroids on muscle mass is caused in at least two ways: first, they increase the production of proteins; second, they reduce recovery time by blocking the effects of stress hormone cortisol on muscle tissue, so that catabolism of muscle is greatly reduced. It has been hypothesized that this reduction in muscle breakdown may occur through anabolic steroids inhibiting the action of other steroid hormones called glucocorticoids that promote the breakdown of muscles. Anabolic steroids also affect the number of cells that develop into fat-storage cells, by favouring cellular differentiation into muscle cells instead. Anabolic steroids can also decrease fat by increasing basal metabolic rate (BMR), since an increase in muscle mass increases BMR.

Anabolic and androgenic effects:

 Some examples of the anabolic effects of these hormones are increased protein synthesis from amino acids, increased appetite, increased bone remodeling and growth, and stimulation of bone marrow, which increases the production of red blood cells. Through a number of mechanisms anabolic steroids stimulate the formation of muscle cells and hence cause an increase in the size of skeletal muscles, leading to increased strength.

The androgenic effects of AAS are numerous. Processes affected include pubertal growth, sebaceous gland oil production, and sexuality (especially in fetal development). Some examples of virilizing effects are growth of the clitoris in females and the penis in male children (the adult penis does not grow even when exposed to high doses of androgens), increased growth of androgen-sensitive hair (pubic, beard, chest, and limb hair), increased vocal cord size, deepening the voice, increased libido, suppression of natural sex hormones, and impaired production of sperm.

Adverse effects:

Anabolic steroids can cause many adverse effects. Most of these side-effects are dose-dependent, the most common being elevated blood pressure, especially in those with pre-existing hypertension,and harmful changes in cholesterol levels: Some steroids cause an increase in LDL "bad" cholesterol and a decrease in HDL "good" cholesterol. Anabolic steroids have been shown to alter fasting blood sugar and glucose tolerance tests. Anabolic steroids such as testosterone also increase the risk of cardiovascular disease or coronary artery disease. Acne is fairly common among anabolic steroid users, mostly due to stimulation of the sebaceous glands by increased testosterone levels. Conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT) can accelerate the rate of premature baldness for males genetically predisposed, but testosterone itself can produce baldness in females.

High doses of oral anabolic steroid compounds can cause liver damage, as the steroids are metabolized (17α-alkylated) in the digestive system to increase their bioavailability and stability.

There are also sex-specific side-effects of anabolic steroids. Development of breast tissue in males, a condition called gynecomastia (which is usually caused by high levels of circulating estradiol), may arise because of increased conversion of testosterone to estradiol by the enzyme aromatase.Reduced sexual function and temporary infertility can also occur in males. Another male-specific side-effect that can occur is testicular atrophy, caused by the suppression of natural testosterone levels, which inhibits production of sperm (most of the mass of the testes is developing sperm). This side-effect is temporary: The size of the testicles usually returns to normal within a few weeks of discontinuing anabolic steroid use as normal production of sperm resumes.Female-specific side-effects include increases in body hair, permanent deepening of the voice, enlarged clitoris, and temporary decreases in menstrual cycles. When taken during pregnancy, anabolic steroids can affect fetal development by causing the development of male features in the female fetus and female features in the male fetus.

A number of severe side-effects can occur if adolescents use anabolic steroids.

For example, the steroids may prematurely stop the lengthening of bones (premature epiphyseal fusion through increased levels of estrogen metabolites), resulting in stunted growth. Other effects include, but are not limited to, accelerated bone maturation, increased frequency and duration of erections, and premature sexual development. Anabolic steroid use in adolescence is also correlated with poorer attitudes related to health.

Other side-effects can include alterations in the structure of the heart, such as enlargement and thickening of the left ventricle, which impairs its contraction and relaxation. Possible effects of these alterations in the heart are hypertension, cardiac arrhythmias, congestive heart failure, heart attacks, and sudden cardiac death.These changes are also seen in non-drug-using athletes, but steroid use may accelerate this process.However, both the connection between changes in the structure of the left ventricle and decreased cardiac function, as well as the connection to steroid use have been disputed.

Medical uses:

Since the discovery and synthesis of testosterone in the 1930s, anabolic steroids have been used by physicians for many purposes, with varying degrees of success, for the treatment of: