Anabolic Steroids Information (Testosterone Hormones)
Anabolic steroids like Testosterone are a class of natural and synthetic steroid hormones that promote cell growth and division, resulting in growth of muscle tissue and sometimes bone size and strength. Testosterone is one of the well known hormone steroids. Steroids act in different ways on the body to promote muscle growth, and every steroid has androgenic and anabolic properties. It is because of this, they are properly referred to in medical texts as AAS (anabolic/androgenic steroids).
Men depend on Testosterone for their sexual health, mental and physical well being. Hard muscles and strong erections are possible with sufficient levels of male androgens (hormones). Without them, men quickly become flabby, lose muscle and gain weight, lose their sex drive, feel tired all the time and have no energy. Working out becomes a chore, ambition and drive diminish. Testosterone, the male sex hormone is the best known natural anabolic steroid, as well as the best known natural androgen.
As men age and testosterone levels gradually decline, Testosterone Replacement Therapy or TRT may become necessary to replenish and restore lost or lower than normal testosterone levels.
Anabolic Steroid Use Effects,
Benefits and Side Effects
- Effects or Benefits
- Medical uses of Steroids
- Use and Abuse in Athletics and Bodybuilding
- History of Anabolic Steroids like Testosterone
- List of Anabolic Compounds Commonly used as Ergogenic Aids
- Minimizing the Side-Effects & Risks associated with Steroid Use
Anabolic Steroids Use and Abuse in Professional Sports and Bodybuilding
These drugs are used by track and field athletes, weight lifters, bodybuilders, shot putters, cyclists, professional baseball and footbal players, professional wrestlers, police officers, marathon runners and others to give them a competitive advantage and to improve their physical appearance or to allow them to better compete with others who have a physical advantage. Particularly strong athletes benefit from a natural endowment of endogenous steroids, and many more from steroid use as well. Steroid use to obtain competitive advantage is prohibited by the rules of the governing bodies of many sports, and officially condoned by none.
According to the 1999 Monitoring the Future study, the percentage of eighth, tenth, and twelfth graders in the United States who reported using steroids at least once in their lives increased steadily over the preceding four years (an average of 1.8 % in 1996, 2.1 % in 1997, 2.3 % in 1998, and 2.8 % in 1999). In addition, steroid use to enhance athletic performance is no longer limited to high school males: a 1998 Pennsylvania State University study found that 175,000 high school girls nationwide reported taking steroids at least once in their lifetime.
Anabolic Steroid Effects and Benefits
Steroids produce both anabolic and virilization effects (male enhancing). Most anabolic steroids work in two simultaneous ways. Firstly, by binding the androgen receptors and increasing protein synthesis. Secondly, they also reduce recovery time by blocking the effects of the stress hormone, cortical, on muscle tissue. As a result, catabolism of the body's muscle mass is greatly reduced.
Examples of anabolic effects:
- Increased protein synthesis from amino acids
- Increased muscle mass and strength
- Increased appetite
- Increased bone remodeling and growth
- Stimulation of bone marrow increasing production of red blood cells
Examples of virilizing effects:
- Growth of the clitoris (clitoral hypertrophy) in females and the penis in male children (the adult penis does not grow indefinitely 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 endogenous sex hormones
- Impaired spermatogenesis
Other side effects of using anabolic steroid (some the opposite of intended effects) include elevated blood pressure and cholesterol levels, severe acne, reduced sexual function, testicular atrophy, and conversion to DHT (Dihydrotestosterone) resulting in premature baldness. In males, abnormal breast development (gynecomastia) can occur.
In females, anabolic steroids have a virilizing effect, resulting in a permanent increase in body hair, permanent deepening of the voice, a permanently enlarged clitoris (clitoral hypertrophy), and fewer menstrual cycles.
In adolescents, abuse of these agents may prematurely stop the lengthening of bones (premature epiphyseal fusion through increased estrogen), resulting in stunted growth. Serious medical illness can result from extreme hormone use.
Enlargement of the heart (the heart is a muscle and thus affected by the muscle-building qualities of the hormones) is a risk which increases the chance of an adverse cardiac event occurring in later life.
Heavy anabolic steroid use can affect hormone-sensitive tissue and organs, in particular, the prostate, causing increases of prostate cancer in heavy users. Another long-term health risk is liver damage, particularly with oral anabolic steroid compounds which are 17-alpha-alkylated in order to not be destroyed by the digestive system.
An ideal anabolic steroid (a hormone with purely anabolic effects and no virilizing or other side effects) has been widely sought. Many synthetic anabolic steroids have been developed in an attempt to find molecules that produced a higher degree of anabolic rather than virilizing effects. Unfortunately, the most effective steroids known for increasing lean body mass also have the strongest androgenic characteristics.
Anabolic steroids were tried by physicians for many purposes in the 1940s and 1950s with varying success. Disadvantages outweighed benefits for most purposes, and in recent decades medical use in North America and Europe has been restricted to a few conditions.
Bone marrow stimulation:
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 were used heavily by pediatric endocrinologists for children with growth failure from the 1960s through the 1980s. Availability of synthetic growth hormone (HGH) and increasing social stigmatization of anabolic steroids led to discontinuation of this use.
Stimulation of appetite and preservation of muscle mass: Anabolic steroids have been given to people with chronic wasting conditions such as cancer and AIDS.
Induction of male puberty: 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.
Anabolic steroids have been marketed to doctors for stimulation of children's appetite in developing countries, long after developed countries have abandoned this practice because of side effects.
Minimizing the Side-effects
Typically, bodybuilders, athletes and sportsmen who use anabolic steroids try to minimize the negative side-effects. For example, increasing the amount of cardiovascular exercise to help negate the effects of left ventricle hypertrophy. Some androgens will aromatize and convert to estrogen, potentially causing some combination of the side effects listed above. During a steroid cycle users may take an aromatase inhibitor and/or a SERM; these drugs affect aromatisation and estrogen receptor binding respectively.
The SERM tamoxifen and anastrozole (Arimidex by AstraZeneca), are of particular interest as it prevents binding to the estrogen receptor in the breast, reducing the risk of irreversible gynecomastia. Furthermore, to combat the natural testosterone suppression and to restore proper HPTA function, what is known as 'post cycle therapy' (PCT) is prescribed. PCT takes place after the course of anabolic steroids. It typically consists of a combination of the following drugs depending on which protocol is used:
- A SERM such as clomiphene citrate and/or tamoxifen citrate.
- An aromatase inhibitor such as anastrozole.
Human Chorionic Gonadotropin, HCG
The aim of PCT using estrogen blockers, estrogen inhibitors and injections like HCG - is to return the bodies' endogenous hormonal balance to its original state within the shortest space of time. It helps to prevent atrophy of the testes and help them to produce their own testosterone.
Those prone to premature hair loss due to steroid use have been known to take the prescription drug finasteride for prolonged periods of time. Finasteride reduces the conversion of testosterone to DHT, the latter having much higher potency for alopecia. Finasteride is useless in the cases when steroid is not converted into a more androgenic dehydroderivative.
Anabolic Steroids History
Anabolic steroids are believed to have been inadvertently discovered by German scientists in the early 1930s, but at the time the discovery was not considered significant enough to warrant further study. The first known reference to an anabolic steroid in a US weightlifting/bodybuilding magazine is testosterone propionate in a letter to the editor in Strength and Health magazine in 1938. In the 1950s, scientific interest was rekindled, and methandrostenolone (Dianabol) was approved for use in the United States by the federal Food and Drug Administration in 1958 after promising trials had been conducted in other countries.
By the early 1990s several pharmaceutical companies stopped manufacturing or marketing the products in the United States, including Ciba, Searle, Syntex and others.
In addition, an entire market for counterfeit drugs emerged at this time. Never seen in the previous 30 years of their availability on the U.S. market, computers and scanning technology made the ease of counterfeiting legitimate products by utilizing their original label design, and the market was flooded with products that contained everything from mere vegetable oil to toxic substances which unsuspecting users injected into themselves, of which some died as a result of blood poisoning, methanol poisoning or subcutaneous abscess.
Concerns over the growing illicit market and the prevalence of abuse, combined with the possibility of harmful long term effects of steroid use, led the U.S. Congress in 1991 to place anabolic steroids into Schedule III of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). The CSA defines anabolic steroids as any drug or hormonal substance chemically and pharmacologically related to testosterone (other than estrogens, progestins, and corticosteroids) that promotes muscle growth. Most illicit anabolic steroids are sold at gyms, competitions, and through the mail. For the most part, these substances are smuggled into the United States. In addition, a number of counterfeit products are sold as anabolic steroids (Buyer Beware).
On January 20, 2005, the Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 2004 took effect, amending the Controlled Substance Act to place both anabolic steroids and pro-hormones on a list of controlled substances, making possession of the banned substances without a prescription a federal crime.
List of Anabolic Compounds Commonly used as Ergogenic Aids
- Testosterone (attached to various esters enanthate, cypionate, propionate or a suspension in oil or water)
- Nandrolone / Nor-testosterone (Deca-durabolin)
- Stanozolol (Winstrol)
- Oxymetholone (Anadrol-50)
- Oxandrolone (Anavar)
- Fluoxymesterone (Halotestin)
- Trenbolone (Fina)
- Methenolone (Primobolan)
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