An anabolic steroid user usually has one common concern on their mind. Muscle growth. Although steroids can dramatically increase the skeletal muscle mass, what are commonly over looked are the harmful physical effects their body may endure while taking anabolic steroids. The chances of death resulting solely from anabolic steroid use is extremely rare, but many serious and not so serious problems can occur. There is almost an endless list of external visible effects anabolic steroids can cause on the body. None are as serious as the effects anabolic steroids can have internally, for example, the heart and liver. Although steroids will most likely not kill you, these and other effects can result in a shortened life span. Many studies have been conducted on Anabolic steroids to determine the harmful effects they have on the body. Various results from no effect to life threatening have been concluded from these studies. To take in consideration the amount of evidence though, it is more believable that anabolic steroids do cause harmful physical effects. There is an abundance of information to sway the most curious into believing that anabolic steroids do cause harmful physical effects.
What is a steroid? An androgenic anabolic steroid is a synthetic derivative of the male hormone testosterone. These derivatives of testosterone promote the growth of skeletal muscle and increase lean body mass. Once in the bloodstream, anabolic steroids bind to hormone receptors in skeletal muscle and other cells. To explain the binding in more detail: androgens are a group of steroid hormones that include testosterone and hydrotestosterone. They have both anabolic and androgenic properties. Androgen I defined as a substance that promotes or stimulates the development of male characteristics. Anabolic refers to stimulation of skeletal muscle mass growth. It s impossible to completely separate anabolic and androgenic effects of steroids but they all have some of both. The androgen receptors are located within the muscle cells. The receptor binds to the androgen present to the cell. The androgen acts as a key to the receptor, which is a lock to a biological door. When opened, myriad biological processes are initiated, including muscle growth. The binding also stimulates the synthesis of certain specific enzymes. These enzymes, for example RNA polylemeras, promote two important biochemical reactions. Creatine phosphate synthesis and protein synthesis. Creatine phosphate is a molecule that can be metabolized in the absence of sufficient oxygen as a short-term source of energy. An increase in creatine phosphate synthesis allows for athletes to train harder and for longer periods at a time. Protein synthesis is essential for the long-term increase of muscle mass. Anabolic steroids also promote nitrogen retention in the body by allowing for better utilization of the nitrogen in ingested protein. This effect is offset by the body s homeostatic mechanisms, which are designed to maintain a stable environment. Therefore to increase mass with Anabolic steroids a user must adjust to a diet with sufficient protein and calories up to 10, 000 calories a day.
Steroids cause many harmful visible physical effects. The effects may vary from male to female as well. Some of the most common effects of anabolic steroids in men are acne steroidalis, gynecornastia, exopthalmos (protrusion of one or both eyeballs), male pattern baldness, penile atrophy, testicular atrophy, progeria (accelerated aging), muscular hypertrophy (change in muscle density), and water retention. And in female athletes: paraphonial (deepening of the voice), facial hair, hirsutism (excessive body hair) mammae atrophy, laryngeal hypertrophy, enlarged clitoris, muscular hypertrophy, and change in body proportions as well. Anabolic steroids also cause swelling of the feet and ankles, along with weakening tendons and ligaments. These are many of the visible symptoms caused by anabolic steroids.
Steroids are known to cause a shorter life span. A study was conducted to prove this. Adult male laboratory mice were given a stack comprising of testosterone, testosterone cyprenate, methyl testosterone and thandrolane for six moths. High and low dose regiments were compared in an attempt to mimic the combinations and doses that might be used in a bodybuilding cycle. One year after they were taken off steroids, 52% of the mice on the high dose and 35% on the low dose had died. Autopsies performed revealed that in both groups the mice had suffered multiple pathological conditions at the time of death including liver tumors, peliosis hepatitis, kidney tumors and various lesions of the heart, lungs, and lymph nodes. On the surface it appears to have significant implications for the life expectancies and over health of androgen users. A closer analysis reveals that this study has limitations that prevent it from being applied to athletes who use such drugs. The stack given to the mice leads to question the protocol design. Bodybuilders who used Anabolic steroids don t typically ingest multiple drugs with the same characteristics. But the study does show that if people didn t exercise and closely monitor their diets while taking doses of severe toxic steroids for the major part of their lives. Then they too might develop the diseases mentioned. Which in return would result in a shorter life span.
Anabolic steroids can cause serious internal effects. For example the liver. Medical professionals frequently warn that an initial sign of liver toxicity induced by anabolic steroid use is in increase in certain liver enzymes. These enzymes, such as ALT, AST, and CDH are thought to reflect the type of chemical hepatitis, or liver inflammation caused by anabolic steroids. Such drugs are biochemically tweaked to prevent the rapid breakdown in the liver that would normally occur with oral testosterone. At the structural level, the steroid induced liver inflammation prevents the normal circulation of bile through the liver bile channels. When this happens, liver cells begin to break down leading to enzyme elevation. Steroid users showed elevations in most non-specific enzymes with the exception of a liver specified enzyme called Y- glutomyl transpydate (GST). GST is considered the most sensitive marker of liver functions because it s only found it the liver. Based on these findings, studies have indicated that anabolic steroids are often implicated as hepatoxic based on enzyme elevations originating from muscle tissue. In summary, there is no evidence of a positive association between anabolic steroid use as assessed by GST levels. This doesn t mean that anabolic steroids aren t capable of causing liver disease. It says that the usual liver enzyme elevations that occur with anabolic steroids aren t a clear-cut indication of the disease.
Steroids can have an effect on one of the most important organs in your body. The heart. Different research groups conducted two studies. Both studies focus on the effects of anabolic steroids on the left ventricle wall of the heart, which is the portion that pumps blood to the body. Some researchers now believe that using drugs that accelerate muscular enlargements, such as steroids, may promote structural changes. The medical literature records list several cases of sudden death among steroid users. The suspected cause was the abnormal left ventricular structure. Scientists from the University of North Texas Health Centre examined early studies dealing with the effects of steroids on the hearts of bodybuilders. The subjects of the report weren t every muscular or weren t on steroids. To remedy this, eight elite bodybuilders of enormous proportions who had used drugs cyclically for 6 15 years. The scientists also examined eight bodybuilders who were drug-free. The researchers used a sophisticated medical test called Doppler echocardiography to assess the internal dimensions of the heart. The results showed that the ventricular wall was thicker than those on steroids then drug-free. The thickening of the wall can cause numerous heart problems. The second study done by Dutch scientists involved giving 12 bodybuilders a 200mg weekly injection of a steroid. A randomized double-blind protocol was used. Neither the scientist nor subject knew who was getting the fake or real drug. The experiment found no cardiac changes or adverse cardiovascular effects resulting from the use of anabolic steroids. The reasonable conclusion of both research results might be that the health effects of steroids on the heart are dependent on time and dosage.
There is a lot of information gathered by medical studies to show that Anabolic steroids have many harmful effects on the body. Anabolic steroids cause many visible effects occurring all over the body as well as internal effects on the liver and ventricle walls of the heart. Anabolic steroids are also shown that excessive usage can shorten a user s life span drastically. The one thing is that most of the harmful physical effects caused my steroids are dependent on the length of usage, the amount intake, what they were taken with, and how the user treated themselves heath wise while using anabolic steroids. If a user took all these in consideration, maybe a lot of these harmful effects can be avoided. It is very doubtfully though that all can be avoided. In conclusion, Androgenic anabolic steroids do cause many serious physical problems depending on the precautions taken by the user.
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