Anabolic steroid

From Academic Kids

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Seven-time Mr. Olympia Arnold Schwarzenegger has admitted to years of anabolic steroid use.

Anabolic steroids 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 the best known natural anabolic steroid, as well as the best known natural androgen.



Most anabolic steroids work by activation of androgen receptors, producing anabolic and virilizing effects.

Examples of anabolic effects:

Examples of virilizing effects:

Many androgens are metabolized to compounds which also cross-react with estrogen receptors, producing additional (usually) unwanted effects:

A hormone with purely anabolic effects would have many uses, but in many cases the usefulness is limited by unwanted virilizing effects. Many of the synthetic anabolic steroids were devised in an attempt to find molecules that produced a higher degree of anabolic rather than virilizing effects.

Other side effects (some the opposite of intended effects) include elevated blood pressure and cholesterol levels, severe acne, premature baldness, reduced sexual function, and testicular atrophy. In males, abnormal breast development (gynecomastia) can occur. In females, anabolic steroids have a masculinizing effect, resulting in more body hair, a deeper voice, smaller breasts, masculinized or enlarged clitoris (clitoral hypertrophy), and fewer menstrual cycles. Several of these effects are irreversible. 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. Another health risk is long-term liver damage, particularly if the anabolic steroid compound is 17-alpha-alkylated in order to not be destroyed by the digestive system when taken orally.

Interestingly....many of the side effects mentioned above are exactly what the very compounds referenced are being utilized to cure! Reduced sexual function, alcoholic hepatitis, low libido in both males and females and finally, as a more natural route (via free testosterone, such as that suspended in carbomer for transdermal delivery) to reduce and/or eliminate hyperlipidemia, obesity and promote healing and a decrease in the incidence of "male menopause" related symptoms of hypogonadism.

The cause is the cure...... or is the cure the cause? There is no single source of agreement on any of this other than the fact that when oral compounds are utilized, their 17-alpha-alkylation is potentially a cause of hepato-toxcity, but no more so than has been the case with simple OTC compounds such as acetomenophen (Tylenol) and other NSAIDs.

There are only a few known intentional overdoses with androgenic compounds. The same cannot be said for dangerous OTC compounds, which account for over 1000 deaths per year by suicide and accidental geriatric overdose.

Medical uses

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.
  • Growth stimulation: Anabolic steroids were used heavily by pediatric endocrinologists for children with growth failure from the 1960s through the 1980s. Availability of synthetic growth hormone 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.

Use and abuse in athletics and bodybuilding

During the 1990s, anabolic steroid use became a national concern in the competitive sports. The reason for this traces its way back to the US presidential election of 1988, when candidate and Democratic Senator Joseph Biden, was revealed, by members of the Republican Party, to be plagiarizing speeches during his campaign.

George Herbert Walker Bush was elected president of the United States in 1988, and soon after, named Arnold Schwarzenegger as head of the President's Physical Fitness Council. As a result of his loss in the presidential elections, a bitter Senator Biden sponsored the Anabolic Substance Control Act - which placed these compounds into the realm of the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) as opposed to the FDA (Food and Drug Administration).

Despite Mr. Schwarzenegger's own admission, Senator Biden began a public campaign of accusing the president of appointing a "law breaker" and "steroid abuser by his own admission" - which then heightened awareness of the compounds to incredible proportions.

Ultimately, by the early 1990s, several pharmaceutical companies stopped manufacturing or marketing the products in the United States, including Ciba, Searle, Syntex and others. Children with growth disorders, including young girls with Turner's Syndrome (XO chromosome) were being increasingly treated with growth hormone. Despite studies suggesting a small additional advantage when oxandrolone was combined with GH, the bad publicity generated made anabolic steroids "unsellable" to parents even when oxandrolone became available again a few years ago.

In addition, an entire market for counterfit 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 counterfitting 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, dozens of which died as a result of blood poisoning, methanol poisoning, subcutaneous abcess as well as CJD - as a result of counterfit rHGH which utilized the extraction of HGH from university medical school and forensic cadavers.

The "dangers" have all but disappeared when applied on a personal level. In the meantime, the drugs remain C-III. They are the only compounds on the list of the DEA compounds which have neither psychological or physical additive properties - the very criteria for having any compound fall under the auspices of the DEA.

These drugs are used by track and field athletes, weight lifters, bodybuilders, shot putters, cyclists, professional baseball players and others to give them a competitive advantage, and improve their physical appearance or to allow them to better compete with others who have a physical advantage, perhaps from a more fortunate natural endowment of endogenous steroids or from steroid use as well. Steroid use for these purposes is a violation of the laws of the United States (since anabolic steroids are "controlled substances") and other countries. Steroid use to obtain competitive advantage is prohibited by the rules of the governing bodies of many sports, and officially condoned by none.

In most cases, if not all, there is no significant advantage to anyone using the drugs themselves and not training at a level that is 3-6 times more intense than their next level competitor. This is a good example of why you do not see athletes in the sports above with the strength or physiques of "Arnold" - use of the drug still requires such intensity of training that adding it to one's regimine does little for enhancing performance without a proportionate increase in training. Competition in the NFL would be one of the rare incidences of such training (as would its top tier collegiate counterpart).

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 percent in 1996, 2.1 percent in 1997, 2.3 percent in 1998, and 2.8 percent 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.

Minimising the side-effects

Typically bodybuilders, athletes and sportsmen who use anabolics steroids try to minimise the negative side-effects. For example increasing the amount of cardiovascular exercise to help negate the effects of left ventricle hypertrophy. Also many bodybuilders take a Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulator (SERM), such as tamoxifen (brand name: Nolvadex). The prescription drug tamoxifen binds to the estrogen receptor in the breast, thus significantly reducing the risk of gynecomastia caused by increased estrogen.

Furthermore to combat natural testosterone suppression (and testicular atrophy) caused by introducing exogenous hormones; what is known as 'post cycle therapy' or PCT is self prescribed. This PCT takes place after the course of anabolic steroids. It typically consists of combining a SERM such as clomiphene citrate or tamoxifen (or both) with an Aromatase Inhibitor (AI) such as anastrazole (brand name: Arimidex) or femara. The aim of PCT is to return the bodies' endogenous hormonal balance to its original state within a short space of time.

Those prone to premature hairloss due to steroid use/abuse have been known to take the prescription drug finasteride for prolonged periods of time.

It must be noted that often this self-medication takes place outside of the supervision of a doctor. However, when self-medication is done by an informed user under the supervision of a physician who can regularly monitor liver function, lipids, and CBC, the use of anabolic steroids is much safer than what the majority of the public assumes.


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. In the 1950s, however, 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.

Concerns over the growing illicit market and the prevalence of abuse, combined with the possibility of harmful longterm 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.

On January 20, 2005, the Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 2004 took effect, amending the Controlled Substance Act to place both anabolic steroids and prohormones on a list of controlled substances, making possession of the banned substances a federal crime.

List of Anabolic Compounds Commonly used as Ergogenic Aids

  • Testosterone (attached to various esters enanthate, cypionate, propinate or suspended in oil or water)
  • Methandrostenolone / methandienone (Dianabol) <--unavailable in the United States for 20+ years.
  • Nandrolone / Nor-testosterone (Deca-durabolin)
  • Boldenone (Equipoise)
  • Stanozolol (Winstrol) <--off the market for close to a decade
  • Oxymetholone (Anadrol) <--off the market for over a decade until June of 2005
  • Oxandrolone (Anavar) <--Searle ceased marketing in 1989. Again available at $500 for 30 tablets vs 100 tablets for $30, just prior to its removal from market. A highly questionable set of ethics being applied to oxandrolone as Orphan Drug Status continues to be granted to a product which is neither new nor patented - costing the USA millions as the compound is used to stop AIDS and Cancer Tissue Wasting (Cachexia).
  • Fluxymesterone (Halotestin)
  • Trenbolone (Fina) <-- has been mixed with Estrodiol for over a decade by DEA order

External link

pl:Steryd anaboliczny pt:Anabolizantes sv:Anabola steroider


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