Steriods

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"Steroids." It's a familiar word with typically negative connotations, yet they have benefits behind the drug also. No doubt you've heard about athletes who abuse steroids. Or you may be all too aware of the bad side effects associated with steroid medications. Well I’ll be talking about steroids in depth. What steroids are composed of, development of steroids, how it was given a bad name, how it works in the major parts of the body, and better way steroids can be used. What are Steroids? Steroids are a class of hormones synthesized from cholesterol. All steroids share the same basic four-ring carbon structure, but differ in the number of carbon atoms attached to the number 17 carbon atom in the structure, and in the manner in which hydrogen (H), oxygen (O), and the hydroxyl (OH) groups are attached to the carbon atoms. There are various types of steroids. For example, corticosteroids, such as prednisone or cortisone, are anti-inflammatory, catabolic compounds that break tissue down. They are completely different from the substances known as anabolic steroids. The term "anabolic steroids" commonly refers to steroids which are synthetically produced, molecularly altered derivatives (or "analogs") of testosterone. Naturally occurring testosterone is the primary sex hormone found in men, produced primarily by the testes. The adrenal glands are the primary source of testosterone in women, where testosterone is produced in a much lesser (10 to 15 times lesser) amount. The development of anabolic steroids, which testosterone, has both anabolic (tissue building) and androgenic (masculinizing) qualities. The anabolic effects are primarily muscle growth. The androgenic effects are the development of secondary male sex characteristics, such as growth of facial and body hair and deepening tone of the voice. Obviously, the anabolic effects are desirable for sports performance and cosmetic appearance. In fully developed adults, especially women, the androgenic effects are not so desirable at all. By the early 1950's, scientists were trying to isolate testosterone's muscle building properties without the masculinizing effects. Synthetic anabolic steroids were developed in this pursuit. Researchers discovered that by making certain modifications to testosterone, such as by adding or removing certain elements at specific locations on the molecule, the resulting compound had high anabolic effects with a substantially reduced androgenic effect. The term "anabolic" instead of "androgenic" steroid promotes the modification of the molecular structure to enhance tissue building and minimize masculinizing effects. (However, because the anabolic and androgenic qualities of these substances cannot be completely separated, some experts prefer the term "anabolic/androgenic steroids.") It is also quite common to see both testosterone and anabolic steroids generically referred to as androgens. One of the pioneers in the history of anabolics was John Ziegler, M.D., who in collaboration with the pharmaceutical manufacturer CIBA, introduced the oral steroid Dianabol to weightlifters in 1956. By the mid 1960's, scientists had created many different anabolic steroids and thousands of strength athletes were using them, even to day. Steroids got a bad name after dramatically improving arthritis symptoms in the 1940s, cortisone was hailed as a "miracle drug." But problems emerged. People taking cortisone for months in doses high enough to relieve inflammation routinely experienced harmful side effects. Physicians now recognize that prolonged use of corticosteroids can lead to widespread problems affecting: Metabolism--Your body tends to accumulate fat in your abdomen, around your face ("moon face") and on the back of your neck. Also, levels of blood sugar increase, sometimes leading to or worsening diabetes. Muscular weakness develops. Bones--Formation of new bone is inhibited and calcium is lost in the urine. Osteoporosis and, sometimes, joint damage result. Eyes--Incidence of cataracts increases. Skin--Thinning occurs. Blood vessels near the surface of your skin become more visible. Skin bruises more easily. Wounds heal slowly. Blood pressure--Elevations are common. Immune system--Your body produces fewer disease-fighting antibodies, making you more susceptible to viral, bacterial and fungal infections. Emotions--Some people develop agitation, euphoria, insomnia and, rarely, psychosis. Even though all these side effects are possible with use of corticosteroids, it's unusual for one person to have them all. These side effects don't occur with birth control and estrogen medications. Anabolic steroids work in the body when steroids are taken orally. Then proceed through the gastrointestinal tract to the liver, where they are processed before going into the blood; steroids injected, go directly into the blood stream. Eventually, however, all anabolic steroids wind up in the blood stream, carried along with thousands of other types of molecules. How anabolic steroids work to increase muscular size and strength is best explained on a cellular level. The cells within the tissues of our bodies have certain areas that are receptive to some free-floating molecules within the blood. These areas are called receptor sites. There are receptor sites with an affinity for steroid molecules in our skeletal muscle cells, for example. A steroid molecule being carried along in the blood enters the muscle cell by diffusion and binds to one of these receptor sites. The connection that is formed permits the steroid molecule to deliver a cellular message or command to the receptor site to effect certain metabolic changes within the cell. One of these primary metabolic changes is increased protein synthesis and nitrogen retention, leading to increased size and strength of the skeletal muscle cell. The connection of a steroid molecule and receptor site is fleeting: once the steroid molecule delivers its cellular command, it moves on to other receptor sites, delivering its message over and over until it is converted into another compound or is excreted in the urine. This capacity of androgens to be converted into other substances by chemical reactions and enzymes within certain tissues of the body will be extremely significant later when we discuss potential side effects. Anabolics also enhance size and strength through a different mechanism. Intense training causes the body to produce increased levels of cortisol, a catabolic substance that causes muscle tissue breakdown. Anabolics have an anticatabolic effect; that is, they prevent the breakdown of muscle tissue by displacing cortisol from its receptors. Consequently, recovery processes are speeded up and injuries, including the microscopic muscle damage incurred from heavy training, heal faster. Some authorities believe that the anticatabolic properties of steroids may be of equal significance to the anabolic properties. Anabolic steroids are processed by the liver. Their first pass through the liver is unusually harsh on the liver. For this reason, even moderate short-term administration of oral steroids can effect liver function test readings. Elevated liver counts indicating liver stress (toxicity) have been reported in recent studies of somewhat moderate oral anabolic steroid therapy (daily doses of 40 and 80 mg of oxandrolone). However, these elevated liver function readings will return to normal after cessation of a moderate, short-term steroid cycle. When I was doing my research I couldn’t find one case to the contrary. Further, it is recognized that intense weight training alone often causes changes in liver function tests, including SGOT, SGPT and LDH (These terms, are something that all physicians monitoring athletes using anabolic steroids should be familiar with). The more serious liver problems attributed to anabolic steroid use include hepatocellular carcinoma (liver cancer) and peliosis hepatitis (blood-filled sacs within the liver). Anabolic Steroids and the Heart don’t really mix. Kind of like oil and water. Through the use of steroids, there is a big cardiac risk that might be increased by the use of steroids. It is a subject of speculation and some controversy. High blood pressure is perhaps "one of the most exaggerated claims" of steroid-related health risks, and remains unconfirmed despite numerous studies (Friedl, 1993). Regarding blood lipid levels, oral steroids in particular seem to cause a reduction in HDL (high-density lipoprotein cholesterol) levels in some steroid users. However, changes in the blood lipid levels now appear to begin to recover within about a month after discontinued use, and, in fact, most studies do not report an increase in total cholesterol (Yesalis & Cowart). Better ways are to prescribe steroids that reduce side effects in a major way or just to use steroid that help you, if you have inflammatory joints, corticosteriods help make the swelling go do

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