The idea of having an athletic body and being able to put forth the ultimate athletic performance can be very tempting, and the impulse to use steroids can be very great, especially amongst the younger generation that sees their peers achieving somewhat fantastic results in the gym. However, experts warn about the use of steroids and steroid-like substances because of the potential adverse side effects and consequences. The use of anabolic steroids is one of the most controversial and discussed topics in gyms across the world, and we wanted to delve into what they are and why they can be very dangerous to health if they are abused.
STEROIDS…. WHAT ARE THEY?
Steroids, also known as anabolic steroids, or more specifically anabolic-androgenic steroids, are biologically active compounds that possess androgenic properties. Steroidal androgens include both natural compounds such as testosterone and synthetic substances that provide similar effects. Due to their anabolic nature, steroids significantly increase protein synthesis inside our cells and provide the organism with virilizing effects such as the development of masculine secondary sexual traits.
Men and women to a lesser extent produce testosterone which is the primary sex hormone and anabolic steroid. Testosterone plays an essential role in a variety of fundamental physiological processes such as muscle fiber synthesis, bone growth, and sexual maturation.
According to ncbi Anabolic steroids are potentially dangerous because they can cause our bodies to suppress its very own endogenous production of testosterone to replace it with the exogenous source that steroids provide.
SO IF STERIODS REPRESENT A HEALTH CONCERN, WHY ARE THEY USED IN GYMS FOR MUSCLE BUILDING?
The powerful effect that testosterone exerts on the processes that lead to increases in muscle mass is what motivates most men or women to use anabolic steroids.
When comparing two individuals, one who does not use steroids to another person who uses them for muscle development purposes, the difference is abysmal. Those who take anabolic steroids regularly grow bigger, harder, and leaner muscle mass with a lower percentage of fat. This is due to the great difference between the production of testosterone that the body generates naturally, and that provided by steroids, which is typically in much higher doses.
That being said, anabolic steroids can sometimes be prescribed as part of or in addition to other forms of treatment for certain diseases such as:
- Chronic Pain
- Extensive burns
The real problem arises with a person without any condition that requires treatment with steroids can begin to experience substantial side effects with prolonged use of steroids. This is because doctors typically prescribe a minimum dose to treat diseases while users of steroids or athletes take much higher doses.
Anabolic steroid abuse disrupts the normal production of hormones in the body potentially causing irreversible changes and irreparable damage. Some reversible changes have been observed, and these include reduced sperm count and shrinkage of the testicles or testicular atrophy. Among the irreversible changes we commonly find male pattern baldness and breast development in men, also known as gynecomastia.
In women, anabolic steroids cause definite masculinization of the body. For example, Testosterone replacement therapy in female-to-male transgender patients causes a redistribution of fat deposits, increased musculature, cessation of menstruation, increased sweating, deepening of the voice, the growth of facial hair, and breast atrophy. While some of these changes are reversible, with continued use of steroids, some of these effects become irreversible.
Steroid abuse has also been associated with cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks and aneurysms. Some patients experience symptoms atypical for their age such as a healthy 30-year-old with cardiac disease. Steroid abuse increases the risk for the formation of blood clots that can interrupt blood flow, thus injuring the heart muscle to the point where it becomes unable to pump blood efficiently.
Additionally, steroids cause the body to retain sodium and fluids which adds extra stress to the circulatory system and causes dangerous fluctuations to blood pressure levels. Another consequence of steroids is that they increase bad cholesterol (LDL) and lower good cholesterol (HDL). This causes a buildup of fat in the arteries and an increased risk of heart attacks.
Furthermore, abuse of steroids has been associated with the formation of liver tumors and a potentially deadly condition called hepatic peliosis, in which cysts filled with blood form in the liver. Sometimes both tumors and cysts can burst causing internal bleeding.
Even if the patient is lucky and avoids developing the more severe side effects, with even moderate steroid usage, the skin is affected significantly. Primarily, steroids cause the sebaceous glands to produce more much more fat than usual, which makes the skin oilier, as a result, the accumulation of skin bacteria increases, pores become clogged, and acne develops.
A host of psychological symptoms have also been consistently observed amongst patients using steroids; these include addiction, anger, aggression, mania, and delusions.
I AM A BODYBUILDER, AND I NEED ALL THE HELP I CAN GET! I NEED STEROIDS!
If you are a bodybuilder and are looking to maximize your muscle mass gains and dramatically boost your performance, steroids are not your only option. Natural testosterone supplements and boosters are widely available, and these products can provide your body with the ability to leverage the power of your endogenous testosterone. In other words, you can enjoy the benefits of steroids such as increased muscle growth, increased bone strength, increased sex drive, etc. without having to deal with the dangerous side effects.
Unless you have been prescribed by a doctor, steroid use by men of any age is generally not recommended. Potentially life-threatening side effects are not worth the possible benefits their use might provide you. Why steroids can be bad for bodybuilding.
On the other hand, testosterone boosters and natural supplements can provide your body with the necessary building blocks to naturally and safely increase your own production of natural testosterone. These products can help you unlock the full potential of good old T without putting your body under the ringer.
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- Shahidi, Nasrollah T. “A review of the chemistry, biological action, and clinical applications of anabolic-androgenic steroids.” Clinical therapeutics9 (2001): 1355-1390.
- Parkinson, Andrew B., and Nick A. Evans. “Anabolic androgenic steroids: a survey of 500 users.” Medicine and science in sports and exercise4 (2006): 644-651.