Anabolic Steroids, as the name suggests are a type of steroid hormones. Their major use is artificial muscle growth, commonly used to enhance various physical capabilities. Anabolic steroids work by increasing protein synthesis in the muscular cells thereby increasing anabolism of muscles. These steroids are derived from the male hormone, testosterone. Therefore, they are also effective in maintaining and developing male sexual qualities.
Discovery and usage
Anabolic steroids were discovered during the early 20th century. Firstly, they were used for purely medical purposes which included stimulation of growth within the body. Mainly targeted were bones, sexual properties and muscular functions. Later, these substances were found to be highly effective in the treatment of cancer and even AIDS.
Although very useful from a medical point of view, these steroids produce severe side effects when used without proper medical guidance or in improper doses. The most common side effects are unnatural increase in blood pressure, acne, increase in cholesterol levels, early heart attacks and severe damage to the liver.
With the buzz rapidly increasing around anabolic steroids and their effectiveness, they began making their way into the sports industry. Various competitive athletes began using these steroids excessively to enhance their athletic abilities. This excessive usage was mainly due to the fact that the athletes, as well as the general public, were mostly ignorant about their side effects. This led to a lot of controversy and finally, major sports bodies including the Olympics, NBA, FIFA etc. decided to ban their usage.
Presently, anabolic steroids are viewed as controlled substances in many countries including the US, UK and Canada and each nation has strict laws to regulate their distribution and usage. Because of this, demand for these substances has risen remarkably in illegal and black markets, and these steroids are now subject to extensive cross-border smuggling through organized crime.
Many activist organizations, with the help of various international governments are working to increase awareness about the risks of excessive steroid usage.
Anabolic Steroids, also known as androgenic or AAS are a distinctive class of steroid hormones. This is because they function in both growth enhancement and maintenance of sexual characteristics. The anabolic growth functions are carried out through manipulation of protein synthesis in muscle cells. This increases anabolism and thereby boosts body size and strength. Androgenic functions are related to sexual properties, with testosterone being the most common natural androgen. All anabolic steroids are derivatives of testosterone. Hence, they are known to stimulate the sex organs, increasing growth of the penis and the clitoris in men and women respectively.
Anabolic steroids, when discovered were highly regarded for their medical advantages. Doctors found them very useful in the treatment of various diseases. The most common uses are:
Treatment of low-levels of testosterone. Anabolic steroids increase these levels and work to boost libido. Sometimes, these steroids are also administered to induce puberty in boys who face unnatural delays.
Stimulation of bone growth. Although anabolic steroids have been used to treat bone growth for a very long time, their side effects have made medical professionals prefer other forms of treatment.
Stimulation of appetite.
Enhancement muscle growth. Anabolic steroids are effective growth-stimulation agents and are found useful when administered to patients subject to chronic wasting conditions (including cancer and AIDS)
Abuse and side-effects
Due to the obvious strength and muscle enhancement qualities of anabolic steroids, many sportspeople began taking excessive doses of these substances to boost their athletic abilities. However, they failed to realize the damaging side effects of these drugs. These side effects include elevated cholesterol and blood pressure, severe damage to the liver and various cardiovascular complications.
This resulted in the imminent ban of the usage of these substances is competitive sports by major bodies such as the Olympics, FIFA etc. Even the major world countries like the USA and the UK have many restrictions posed on the possession and distribution of these drugs.