Mayur Deshpande
  Personal trainer in Mumbai
Articles Health Effects Of Steroids

Article

Health Effects Of Steroids

Steroids are rarely used by doctors. Side effects of steroids are terribly exaggerated by media and doctors but those actually taking steroids usually see things very differently. If the risk of damage to the body was true there would be no more professional bodybuilders because all would be dead. Most steroids seem to work best in particular range of dosage. There is no doubt that steroids are most effective when they are administered in a sensible and logical manner. This requires that the athlete follow certain rules and regular health checkups.

Positive effects of Anabolic/Androgenic steroids

Side (negative) effects of steroids


Positive effects of Anabolic/Androgenic steroids

• Medicinal uses - Medicinal uses of steroids are doctor prescribed treatment of severe burns, and types of Breast cancer. Steroids can also be very helpful in the healing process. For example, a knee or shoulder injury (joint repair), steroids are also used in small quantities by physicians for treating some types of Anemia, Thrombosis, Osteoporosis, Endometriosis and Hereditary Angioedaema, Asthma, Muscle-wasting disorders.
• For fighting against AIDS - It helps a person to gain weight for chronic nutritional deficiencies or AIDS wasting syndrome.
• To improve nitrogen balance - With the help of steroids athletes can shift the nitrogen balance to the positive side for better utilization of ingested protein and the increased retention of nitrogen, the formation of a steroid-receptor complex in skeletal muscle stimulate the RNA-Polymerase system which, in turn, increases protein synthesis in the cell.
• Hormonal replacement therapy - Steroids are use to treat hormonal replacement therapy after menopause. It helps to treat sexual dysfunctions. Anabolic steroids may block the effects of hormones such as Cortisol involved in tissue breakdown during and after exercise. Anabolic steroids may prevent tissue from breaking down following of an intense work-out. This would speed recovery. It helps athletes to recover faster from intense exercise. It increases muscle size through muscle fiber hypertrophy which leads to increases muscle percentage in both male and female.


Side (negative) effects of steroids

1. Psychological effects
2. Physical effects

Psychological side effects

• Aggression - Men are typically more aggressive than women because of presence of more testosterone, and likewise the use of steroids (especially androgens) can increase a person's aggressive behavior. In some occasions this can be a benefit, helping the athlete to perform better in a competition many professional power lifters and bodybuilders take a particular liking to this effect. Athletes who take anabolic steroids often have difficulty dealing with people because of these uncontrollable feelings. Anxiety can disturb sleep patterns, and users may experience irritability.
• Depression - Steroids has an impact on hormone levels in the body, because of this user may find himself in depression. When the athlete goes off steroids and the body decreases in size, depression and other withdrawal symptoms often induce users to take steroids again. Mood changes are most noticeable at higher dosages
• Addiction and Dependence - After prolonged use, users may find they want to see themselves in muscular and top shape which makes them dependent on steroids and some bodybuilders also gets addiction to people's "turn-on" look which makes them addicted to steroids. Users also accustomed to the physical & emotional stimulation of steroids and they become dependant on them.


Physical effects

1. For both sexes
2. Only for males
3. Only for females
4. For adolescents (from 12 to 18 yrs)

1. For both sexes

• Water retention - Many anabolic/androgenic steroids can increase the amount of water and sodium stored in body tissues. In some instances, steroid-induced water retention can bring about a very bloated appearance to the body (hands, arms, face, etc.), which will also reduce the visibility of muscle features (loss of definition). On one hand, the excess water stored in the muscles, joints, and connective tissues will help to improve an individuals overall strength.But on other hand, both water and salt can lead to dangerous problems such as high blood pressure and kidney stress/damage. The body is clearly under more stress when dealing with an unusually high level of water and salt. Some of the size and weight gain are directly result of salt and water retention.
• Liver stress/damage - Liver would be damaged by steroid use. One of the functions of liver is to remove these drugs (steroids) from the blood stream and changing them into products that can be readily removed through the bile or urine. In this process, unstable toxic products are sometimes produced. These can attack and injure the liver. Liver produce bile ( by bile duct)) which regulate bilirubin levels, But in case of stress liver ( by steroid use) there is an obstruction of bile duct, as a result bilirubin levels increase in circulating blood. This excess of bilirubin makes blood toxic and it also cause the skin, eyes, and the mucus membranes (inside of the mouth) to turn a yellowish color. This yellowish color is due to the excess bilirubin dissolving in the fat layer just below the skin this medical condition is known as "jaundice". Liver problems usually seem to occur with the 17 alpha alkylated (oral) steroids. Oral steroids pass through liver.Causious athletes should monitor liver enzymes values. Liver Detoxification drugs like liv-52 DS, silymarin, tationil should be consider during steroid cycles.
• Kidney stress / damage - Since your kidneys are involved in the filtration and removal of byproducts from the body, the administration of steroidal compounds (which are largely excreted in the urine) may cause them some stress. The steroid user should consult a physician if he/she noticed a darkening of urine color, or pain/difficulty when urinating, pain in the lower back (particularly in the kidney areas), fever, and edema (swelling).
• Catabolic state at the end of cycle - Muscle cells contain receptors that bind to cortisol. When that happens, it activates a very strong proteolytic pathway called the ATP-dependent ubiquitin/proteasome pathway, which causes the body to literally eat its own muscles. Anabolic steroids may block the binding of cortisol to its receptor sites, which would prevent muscle breakdown and enhances recovery. The body reacts by producing additional cortisone receptors so that, in the meantime, the unusually high amount of cortisone receptors in the blood can finally do their job. This again is not very serious as long as the athlete continues to take the steroids as planned. While this is beneficial while the athlete is taking the steroids, the effect backfires when he stops taking it. Cortisol receptor sites and cortisol secretion from the adrenal cortex increase. However, when the steroid regime is terminated the cortisone receptors are suddenly freed and the large quantity of free cortisone molecules in the blood now know exactly what to do. They rush to the cortisone receptors to form a molecule/receptor complex and transmit to the muscle cell to break down amino acids.
It is wise to follow step by step approach to come off the steroid cycle. It is must for bodybuilders to follow the PCT therapy. Some studies show that taking Vitamin C, water-soluble antioxidant vitamin, in doses of 1000 mg per day reduces the secretion of cortisol, allowing muscles to grow and lift better. Thus Vitamin C helps to prevent catabolism.
• High blood pressure - Anabolic/androgenic steroids increase the blood pressure during treatment. High blood pressure is most often associated with those steroids that have a high affinity for estrogen conversion, such as testosterone. As estrogen level increases in the body, the level of water and salt retention will typically elevate and lead to increased blood pressure. If high blood pressure is left untreated, high blood pressure can increase the likelihood for heart disease, stroke or kidney failure. Diuretics are used to lower water and salt retention e.g -lasix.
• Hair loss - Testosterone is a 19-carbon steroid hormone produced primarily by the Leydig cells of the testes (in men) and the ovaries (in women). After testosterone is secreted into the bloodstream, most of it is bound to proteins called albumin and globulin. The two to four percent not bound to plasma proteins is known as "free testosterone". Obviously, as binding capacity (% of albumin & globulin) goes up blood levels of "free testosterone" go down. These "free testosterone" is converted within the cells to DHT (Dihydrotestosterone) by the enzyme 5-alpha reductase .DHT is a substance in the body that can shrink the hair follicle until it no longer produces visible hair. The technical term for this type of hair loss is Androgenetic alopecia; Scientists believe DHT and family history are key factors in hair loss. But since there is a genetic factor involved, many individuals will not ever see signs of this side-effect, even with heavy steroid use.
Unlike the conversion of other testosterone to DHT, 5 Alpha Reductase enzyme converts Deca durabolin (Nandrolone) to a very mild androgen called DHN (Dihydronandrolone).While you are taken Deca Durabolin, avoid 5 Alpha Reductase enzyme blockers such as Fincarcar/Finpecia (Finasteride) which prohibits the 5-A R enzyme activity, for it would block the conversion of Deca (nandrolone) to DHN in tissues such as the scalp and the prostate, resulting in hair loss .Athletes who are concerned about hair loss should use cycles consisting of Oxandrolone,Deca durabolin and Primobolan. Clearly those individuals who are suffering from (or have a familial predisposition for) this type of hair loss should be very cautious when using the stronger drugs like testosterone, Anadrol, Halotestin,DHT(Proviron) and Dianabol.
• Cardiovascular diseases - Anabolic/androgenic steroids increase the levels of LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and decrease the levels of HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol).Higher LDL levels OR lower HDL levels are major risk factors for atherosclerosis (process of blocking the blood flow to heart). Atherosclerosis can lead to stroke cardiovascular problems. Oral (17alpha alkylated) steroids have a much stronger negative impact on these levels compared to injectable steroids.
• Acne - In males, their testosterone levels begin to peak in between 13 to 19 yrs and this makes them endure ACNE, but this subsides with age. But when taking anabolic/androgenic steroids, an adult will be confronted with this same problem. This is because the sebaceous glands (which is present under skin & secrete oils on the skin) are stimulated by androgens. Increasing the level of such hormones (external use of androgenic steroids) in skin may therefore enhance the output of oils, therefore causing acne on the skin. The use of strongly androgenic steroids in particular can be very troublesome. Athletes should try to keep their skin clean.Causious atheletes should avoid steroids which have more androgenic effect.
• Tendon & ligament injuries - Anabolic steroids may interfere with collagen metabolism. In several published animal-based studies, using large doses of anabolic steroids appeared to interfere with efficient collagen deposition in tendons, resulting in a weakening of tendon structure. On the other hand, a study that examined tendon structure during surgical repair in human subjects who had used anabolic steroids found no structural changes in collagen that would make a person susceptible to tendon injuries. Some have speculated that bodybuilders and other athletes who use steroids are more prone to tendon injuries because their muscles become so strong that they exceed the tendons' ability to transmit force. There's just too much mass (rapid growth) for the tendon to handle during steroid use.
Research studies on animals clearly show that steroid administration alters normal collagen fibril formation even from the first few cycles, the drug cycles promotes irregular or dysplastic formation of collagen fibers. These abnormal fibrils do not connect to the muscle belly properly; the end result is a stiffer tendon with significantly reduced elastic qualities. Because of the reduced tensile strength the steroid tendon fails to transfer kinetic energy and force during muscle contraction as effectively as non treated tendons. A stiffer, weaker tendon attached to a steroid strengthened muscle, the end result is tendon damage. During anabolic steroid cycle, bodybuilders become more aggressive about lifting weights, try to overload the body suddenly and endure the ligament or tendon injuries.Most of these Scientific and medical literature addressing this concern is scant and is generally limited to observed effects in animals. Although experimental data from animal models suggest steroids alter the biomechanical properties of tendon, ultrastructural evidence to support this theory is lacking.
• Blood Clotting Changes - The use of anabolic/androgenic steroids is shown to increase prothrombin time (the duration it will take for a blood clot to form). This basically means that while an individual is taking steroids, he/she may notice that it takes slightly longer time than usual for a small cut to stop bleeding. It can lead to more serious trouble if a severe accident occurred, or an unexpected surgery was needed. The changes in clotting time are not extremely dramatic, so athletes are usually only concerned with this side effect if planning for a surgery. The clotting changes brought about by anabolic steroids are aggravated with the use of medications like Aspirin, Tylenol, and especially anticoagulants, so your doctor should be informed of their use if undergoing any notable treatment with these types of drugs.


2. Only for males

• Testicular atrophy - It means abnormal reduction in size of testes, the human body always prefers to remain in a very balanced hormonal state, a tendency known as homeostasis. When the injections of androgens (from an outside source) cause an excess of hormone and it will cause the body to stop manufacturing its own testosterone. Specifically, this happens via a feedback mechanism where the hypothalamus detects a high level of sex hormones (including androgens, progestins, and estrogens) and stop the release of GRH (Gonadotropin Releasing Hormone, formerly referred to as luteinizing hormone releasing hormone) This, in turn, causes the pituitary to stop releasing luteinizing hormone and FSH (follicle stimulating hormone), the two hormones (primarily LH) that stimulate the Leydig's cells in the testes to release testosterone that is how may testes shrink from inactivity. In extreme cases the steroid user can notice testicles that are frighteningly small. However, this effect is temporary, and once the drugs are removed (and hormone levels rebalanced) the testicles should return to their original size.The best choice for individuals who seriously want to avoid testicle shrinkage is to use HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) at the end of cycle.

• Gynecomastia - The term comes from the Greek words GYNE meaning "WOMAN" and MASTOS meaning "BREAST." In practical terms, this means abnormally large breasts on men. As far as steroids are concerned the only reason for gynecomastia is high level of estrogen, particularly with the use of strong aromatizing (conversion of testosterone to estrogen by the enzyme Aromatase) androgens such as testosterone. The excess estrogen can act upon receptors in the breast and stimulate the growth of mammary tissues (which are naturally present in males). If left unchecked, this can lead to an actual tissue growth under the nipple area, in many cases taking on a very feminine appearance. Some anabolic steroids such as mesterolone, fluoxymesterolone, dihydrotestosterone can not be converted to estrogen. The progression of disease can be stopped by discontinuing of steroids, in some cases surgery may be the only way to get rid of gynecomastia.
Anabolic steroids can cause men to produce milk. Men naturally have all the proper breast components to produce milks. Excess estrogen presence causes some men to produce milk. This is a rare negative effect of steroid use. Production of milk occurs when gynecosmastia is severe.

To fight this side effect, it necessary to use some form of estrogen antagonist such as Clomid or Nolvadex which blocks estrogen from attaching to and activating receptors in the breast and other tissues during steroid therapy, or an aromatase inhibitor such as Femara or Arimidex, which blocks the enzyme responsible for the conversion of androgens to estrogens. A little puffiness under the nipple is first sign of gynecomastia, if left untreated it further develop into pronounced swelling, soreness and the growth of small lumps under nipples. If athlete found above symptoms, he should immediately quit drug use and consult doctor.
• Prostate enlargement - The prostate gland is a male sex gland. It produces a thick fluid that forms the majority part of the semen. The normal prostate in a young male has is a walnut-sized gland, and a normal prostate gland measures approximately 20 cc. The average prostate in a patient with prostate cancer is approximately 40 cc in size. The prostate gland is located below the urinary bladder and in front of the rectum. It contains cells that make some of the seminal fluid. This fluid protects and nourishes the sperm.

Prostate gland enlargement is believed to be primarily dependent on androgenic hormones particularly the strong testosterone metabolite DHT in normal situations, much in the same way estrogen is linked to breast cancer in women. It is also important to mention that not only androgens, but also estrogens, are believed necessary for the advancement of this condition. It appears that the two work a synergistically to stimulate prostatic tissue growth, such that one without the other would not be enough to cause it.Therefore,lt has been suggested that a non-aromatizable compound like DHT may be a safer option for older men looking for a androgen replacement therapy than testosterone. It is therefore a good idea for older athletes to limit/avoid the intake of strong 5-alpha reducible androgens like Testosterone, Methyltestosterone and Halotestin, or otherwise use Fincar (Finasteride), which was specifically designed to inhibit the 5-alpha reductase enzyme in scalp and prostate tissues. This side effect is very rare.


3. Only for Females

• Virilization - Since anabolic/androgenic steroids are artificial male hormones, they can produce a number of undesirable changes when introduced into the female body. This includes the possibility of virilization which means to the tendency for women to develop male characteristics when taking these steroids. Virilization symptoms include a deepening of the voice, changes in skin texture, acne, menstrual irregularities, increased libido, hair loss, body/facial/pubic hair growth, and an enlargement of the clitoris.
Cautious female athletes should restrict themselves to the use of only mild anabolics such as Winstrol, Primobolan, Anavar and Durabolin, The stronger androgenic compounds should be avoided and most virilization symptoms are irreversible.
• Birth defects - Anabolic/androgenic steroids can have a very pronounced impact on the development of an unborn fetus, Adrenogenital Syndrome (AGS) is a developmental condition in which a genetically female fetus (unborn baby) has internal female structures in addition to external male sex organs. By an increased presence of androgen in the uterus; Individuals with AGS are chromosomally female (XX) but their external male genitals. Women who are, or plan to become pregnant soon, should never consider the use of anabolic steroids.
It would also be the best advice to stay away from these drugs completely for a number of months prior to attempting the pregnancy of a child, so as to ensure the mother has normal hormonal chemistry in body. Although anabolic/androgenic steroids can reduce sperm count and male fertility, steroids are not linked to birth defects when taken by someone fathering a child.


4. During adolescent (from 12 to 18 yrs)

• Stunted growth - Many anabolic/androgenic steroids can stunt growth before stopping bone growth naturally through epiphyseal closure. Once these plates are fused, future linear growth of bone is not possible. Even if the individual avoids steroid use afterwards, the damage is irreversible and he/she can be stuck at the same height forever. Not even the use of growth hormone can reverse this, as this powerful hormone can only thicken bones when used during adulthood. It is not the steroids themselves, but the buildup of estrogen that causes the epiphyseal plates to fuse. Women are shorter than men on average because of this effect of estrogen, and likewise the use of steroids that readily convert to estrogen can prematurely suppress/halt a person's growth.
In fact, the uses of steroids like Anavar, Winstrol, and Primobolan (which do not convert to estrogen) can actually increase one's height if taken during adolescence, as their anabolic effects will promote the retention of calcium in the bones. This would also hold true for non-aromatizing androgens such as Trenbolone, Proviron and Halotestin. It is still safer to advice adolescents to avoid steroid use, at least e until their bodies are fully mature.