Effects Of Using Steroids When Lifting Weights

Anabolic steroids are derived from testosterone. Despite legitimate medicinal use, the drug is often taken illegally to increase athletic prowess. Dangerous side effects are listed.

Anabolic steroids are synthetic derivatives of the male hormone testosterone and as such promote muscle growth.Steroids are a Schedule III drug in the US, which means they do have some approved medical uses, but use is illegal without a prescription.NIDA reports that less than 1% of the American population has used steroids.

The drug is used legally to treat types of anemia, promote protein absorption, promote weight gain after traumatic events (like surgery or chronic infection like HIV), and to help hypogonadal men.Bodybuilders use the drug to reduce body fat and increase muscle mass.Athletes use the drug to increase erythropoiesis and improve the capacity of their blood to carry oxygen to muscles.Scientific tests have been inconclusive about the accuracy of these perceptions, but the anecdotal evidence is strong in support.

The drug probably works by increasing protein synthesis and through an anti-catabolic effect.When muscles are under stress, the release of certain hormones (like cortisol) can cause the breakdown of skeletal muscle.Steroids release the negative effects of the cortisol while increasing the muscle breakdown and allowing then for the muscles to rebuild themselves, stronger.This is how all muscle development works - the muscle is stressed to the point of tearing; hence an athlete may feel sore after a workout.The muscles heal themselves stronger than before; hence an athlete is stronger, faster, or more coordinated after each training session.

Health hazards of illegal steroids are myriad.First, the drug is often taken intramuscularly, and this can lead to needle-sharing and the spread of diseases such as HIV.Problems can occur if the user does not know the proper method of administering a drug intramuscularly.Needle exchange programs generally provide equipment for intravenous injection and may not have the knowledge or equipment for intramuscular drug use.Some people choose to take the drug orally, in part to avoid this risk.Second, because the drug is often bought on the black market, it is unregulated and thus often impure, diluted, or substituted with something either ineffective or even deadly.Third, the presence of too much testosterone can be harmful for men, women, and teenagers.Men may suffer from reduced sperm count or an enlarged prostate.Women may develop facial hair, stop menstruating, and lose their breasts.Teenagers may stunt their skeletal growth.A better known effect is often called "roid rage" - this expresses itself in major mood disorders like manic depression, aggression, or heightened sexual desire.Most side effects appear reversible, except some of the maculating effects in women.

The drug, when used illegally to build up muscle, can be psychologically addictive, though there is no evidence of physical addiction.Sustained use in large doses may supercede testosterone production by the testes in men; the testes temporarily stop producing normal levels of testosterone, and the body cannot sustain the increased muscle mass.Newly acquired muscle will disappear once the user stops using the drug.This can cause depression or panic and a strong desire to continue use.

The drug was developed in 1889.The first known uses of steroids in sports began in the 1940's.It is believed that German soldiers in World War II were given steroids to increase their aggression.The drug was banned by the International Olympic Committee in 1975 and by the US Food and Drug Administration in 1988.Steroids officially became a Schedule III drug in 1990.A black market grew to supply athletes with the drug.

Athletes and those taking the drug illegally often take 10 times or more the recommended therapeutic dosage.Some athletes cycle their regimen, taking massive amounts of steroids for up to three months, then taking no steroids for the next three months to let the body rest.

Many athletic competitions, including the Olympics, test athletes for steroids.Drug tests are most commonly done on urine but can be done on blood.Testing blood is more expensive and more invasive.If steroids are taken intramuscularly, traces can remain in body fat for months; it is possible to test positive for steroids even if the last dose was taken three months ago.This time-release may dissuade athletes from taking steroids during the off-season and abstaining during competitions, since they may still test positive.

To date, there have been no long-term studies on the effects of steroids in either medical patients or overly-ambitious athletes.Most medical use is short-term and has been deemed safe by the FDA, but long-term use for athletic competition is more risky and thus illegal.However, more research would need to be done to define the specific harms of steroid abuse.

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