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Anabolic steroids are a set of steroid hormones related to the male hormone testosterone. It is also known as anabolic-androgenic steroids. These steroids are used by many to build up muscles and increase their strength. However, these are known for several harmful effects on the human body. This paper intends to bring out the effect of anabolic steroids on the human body.
As the name suggests anabolic means building up. Anabolic steroid is intended to boost protein synthesis inside the cells, as a result, the cellular mass, particularly of the muscle buildup. These steroids are also known to have androgenic and virilizing properties. For instance, anabolic steroids aid the development and maintenance of masculine characteristics. It enhances the growth of the vocal cords and body hair. Since anabolic steroids are known for their properties of increasing muscle mass and physical strength these are very common among athletes and those involved in other sports activities and bodybuilding particularly to improve their strength, stamina, and physique.
Studies have proven that the long-term or excessive dose of anabolic steroids has serious health risks such as changes in cholesterol levels, changes in the skin, hypertension, damage to the liver and its functions, and structural changes in the heart.
Androgenic or Virilizing effect
They affect the development and maintenance of masculine characteristics. These can affect pubertal growth, sebaceous gland oil production, and sexuality particularly in the case of fetal development. Virilizing effects include growth of the clitoris in females and the penis in male children, increased male pattern of hair growth in the pubic, beard, chest, and limb hair areas, increased vocal cord size, deepening the voice, increased libido, suppression of natural sex hormones, and impaired production of sperm.
In recent years athletes and others abuse anabolic steroids to improve performance and also their physical appearance. However, the increased levels of testosterone, in general, trigger the growth spurt that occurs during puberty and adolescence. In normal cases when the concentration of these hormones crosses a limit, they signal the bones to stop growing. This is when the person attains his or her maximum height. The administration of anabolic steroids may signal the bones to stop growing much earlier than they normally would have done. This results in stunted growth.
Impact on the Cardiovascular system
Anabolic steroids such as testosterone are known for the increased risk of cardiovascular disease or coronary artery disease. These steroids directly elevate blood pressure, which is particularly risky in those with pre-existing hypertension. Secondly, they have harmful changes in cholesterol levels i.e. decreases HDL and increases LDL levels. Thirdly, anabolic steroids are also known to alter the structure of the heart by enlargement and thickening of the left ventricle. As a result of this, it can harm the contraction and relaxation process of the heart. Another impact may also include congestive heart failure, heart attacks, and sudden cardiac death.
Impact on the Lever
Anabolic steroid abuse is linked with liver tumors. Sometimes it may also be linked with a rare condition called peliosis hepatis. As a result of this blood-filled cysts are formed in the liver. Under serious conditions both the tumors and the cysts sometimes rupture, resulting in internal bleeding.
Impact on skin
Excessive dependence on steroids may result in severe acne, cysts, and oily hair and skin. Studies have found that acne is very common among anabolic steroid users, as these hormones are known to stimulate the sebaceous glands by increased testosterone levels.
Researchers have found that abuse of anabolic steroids induces aggression and other psychiatric side effects. Though the users feel good about themselves while on anabolic steroids, there is strong evidence from studies that extreme mood swings also can occur. This may include manic-like symptoms and violent behavior. Persons on these drugs easily get depressed often when the drugs are stopped and may contribute to addiction. Studies also point out that anabolic steroid users suffer from paranoid jealousy, extreme irritability, delusions, and problems in judgment arising from feelings of invincibility.
Anabolic steroids are known for their muscle-building functions and enhancing strength. This property has made it most popular among athletes and others. However, long-term use of these drugs has shown a serious impact on human health. Though some of these effects may be reversible by stopping its administration, some maybe even irreversible. Additionally, it is also known to spread infections such as HIV, hepatitis A&B, etc. Therefore, it is important to have stringent regulations over the sale of these drugs over the counter.