The effects of steroids

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Steroid abuse has been associated with a wide range of adverse side effects ranging from some that are physically unattractive to others that is life threatening. Most are reversible if the abuser stops taking the drugs, but some are permanent.

The anabolic steroids abused by athletes or body builders are synthetic versions of testosterone, a male hormone. Both men and women naturally produce testosterone. But like all hormones, which regulate the body's most basic functions, throwing one's testosterone out of balance can have wide-ranging consequences.

Possible health consequences of anabolic steroid abuse:
Hormonal system

Steroid abuse disrupts the normal production of hormones in the body, causing both reversible and irreversible changes.

Men

  • infertility
  • breast development
  • shrinking of the testicles
  • male-pattern baldness

Women

  • enlargement of the clitoris
  • excessive growth of body hair
  • male-pattern baldness

Musculoskeletal system

Rising levels of testosterone and other sex hormones normally trigger the growth spurt that occurs during puberty and adolescence and provide the signals to stop growth as well. When a child or adolescent takes anabolic steroids, the resulting artificially high sex hormone levels can prematurely signal the bones to stop growing

  • short stature
  • tendon rupture

Cardiovascular system

Steroid abuse has been associated with cardiovascular diseases, including heart attacks and strokes.

  • increases in LDL
  • decreases in HDL
  • high blood pressure
  • heart attacks
  • enlargement of the heart's left ventricle

Liver

Steroid abuse has been associated with liver tumors and a rare condition called peliosis hepatis, in which blood-filled cysts form in the liver. Both the tumors and the cysts can rupture, causing internal bleeding.

  • cancer
  • peliosis hepatis
  • tumors

Skin

  • severe acne and cysts
  • oily scalp
  • jaundice
  • fluid retention

Psychiatric effects

  • rage, aggression
  • mania
  • delusions

An undetermined percentage of steroid abusers may become addicted to the drugs. Individuals who abuse steroids can experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking steroids, such as mood swings, fatigue and restlessness, loss of appetite, insomnia, reduced sex drive, and steroid cravings. The most dangerous of the withdrawal symptoms is depression.

Without a doctor's prescription for a medical condition, it's against the law to possess, sell, or distribute anabolic steroids. Though there are still so many athletes and body builders whom abuse this illegal substance even with the proven side effects. So, is it really worth it to use steroids?

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