Ever wondered how those bulky weight lifters got so big? While some may have gotten their muscles through a strict regimen of weight-lifting and diet, others may have gotten that way through the illegal use of steroids.
Steroids are synthetic substances similar to the male sex hormone testosterone. They do have legitimate medical uses. Sometimes doctors prescribe anabolic steroids to help people with certain kinds of anemia and men who don't produce enough testosterone on their own. But doctors never prescribe anabolic steroids to young, healthy people to help them build muscles. Without a prescription from a doctor, steroids are illegal.
The scientific name for this class of drugs is anabolic-androgenic steroids. Anabolic refers to muscle-building. Androgenic refers to increased male characteristics. But even scientists shorten it to anabolic steroids.
Some steroid users pop pills. Others use hypodermic needles to inject steroids directly into muscles. When users take more and more of a drug over and over again, they are called "abusers." Abusers have been known to take doses 10 to 100 times higher than the amount prescribed for medical reasons by a doctor. Many steroid users take two or more kinds of steroids at once. Called stacking, this way of taking steroids is supposed to get users bigger faster. Some abusers pyramid their doses in 6-12-week cycles.
Teens who abuse steroids before the typical adolescent growth spurt risk staying short and never reaching their full adult height. Why? Because the body is programmed to stop growing after puberty. When hormone levels reach a certain point, the body thinks it's already gone through puberty. So, bones get the message to stop growing way too soon.
So you want to get jacked? Cool. All it takes is a strenuous weightlifting program, excellent nutrition, and plenty of sleep to get bigger, stronger muscles. If that sounds like a lot of hard work - it is. A lot of people want a shortcut to a chiseled physique, or at least a leg up on the competition. That's where anabolic steroids, or "juice" come in. And it works. An estimated 3-4 million people in the US have used anabolic steroids. Steroids will get you bigger, faster, and stronger than traditional training methods. But are the short-term benefits of anabolic steroids really worth the very serious health risks and lingering effects on your body? (Spoiler alert: No, they aren't).
Steroid hormones are a group of fat soluble hormones made out of cholesterol. Nothing sinister there. And even though "steroid" is a four-letter word to a lot of people, it's important to point out that your body uses steroids all the time. Steroids help you process sugar, maintain salt and water balance, moderate blood pressure, and influence sexual characteristics. The most well-known steroid hormones include testosterone, estrogen, progesterone, cortisol, aldosterone, and pregnenolone, and they're completely normal - even essential - chemicals in your body. However, anabolic steroids are a little different.
More information on our steroids page: https://www.nonpsychotoxic.com/substances/steroids.php
- Anabolic steroids are steroidal androgens that include natural androgens like testosterone as well as synthetic androgens that are structurally related and have similar effects to testosterone
- They increase protein within cells, especially in skeletal muscles
- They have varying degrees virilizing effects such as the growth of facial and body hair
- Androgens or AAS are one of three types of sex hormone agonists, the others being estrogens like estradiol and progestogens like progesterone.
- First synthesized in the 1930s
- Used therapeutically in medicine to stimulate muscle growth and appetite, induce male puberty and treat chronic wasting conditions, such as cancer and AIDS.
Health risks can be produced by long-term use or excessive doses of AAS. These effects include harmful changes in cholesterol levels, acne, high blood pressure, liver damage (mainly with most oral AAS), and dangerous changes in the structure of the left ventricle of the heart. These risks are further increased when, as they often do, athletes take steroids alongside other drugs, causing significantly more damage to their bodies. Conditions pertaining to hormonal imbalances such as gynecomastia and testicular size reduction may also be caused by AAS. In women and children, AAS can cause irreversible masculinization.
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