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Steroids quick review
Hormone description: naturally occurring or synthetic fat-soluble organic compounds having as a basis 17 carbon atoms arranged in four rings.
Biological functions: anabolic steroids increase muscle mass, corticosteroids reduce swelling, pain, and other manifestations of inflammation.
Health benefits: increase protein synthesis, promoting growth of muscles and bones, increase muscle bulk and strength and to enable longer and harder athletic training sessions.
Side effects: hair loss, liver problems, deepened voice, increases in body and facial hair, menstrual irregularities, insomnia, acne, headaches, jaundice, hypertension and high cholesterol.


Steroids are naturally occurring or synthetic fat-soluble organic compounds having as a basis 17 carbon atoms arranged in four rings and including the sterols and bile acids, adrenal and sex hormones, certain natural drugs such as digitalis compounds, and the precursors of certain vitamins. The range of steroids is diverse, including several forms of vitamin D, digitalis, sterols (e.g., cholesterol), and the bile acids. Different groups of steroids include: corticosteroids, anabolic steroids, androgenic steroids,
oestrogenic steroids, progestogenic and anti-inflammatory steroids. Steroids differ from one another in the structure of various side chains and additional rings. Steroids are common in both plants and animals. In humans, steroids are secreted by the ovaries and testes, the adrenal cortex (see adrenal gland), and the placenta. Steroids are complex lipids based on the cholesterol molecule, and which affect chemical processes in the body, growth, and sexual and other physiological functions.

In human physiology and medicine, the most important steroids are cholesterol, the steroid hormones, and their precursors and metabolites. Many steroids are biologically active hormones that control a number of the body's metabolic processes. All the natural sex hormones are steroids. The steroid hormones of the adrenal cortex include glucocorticoids such as cortisone and cortisol and mineralocorticoids such as aldosterone. Steroid molecules have a basic skeleton consisting of four interconnected carbon rings. Different classes of steroids have different functions. Anabolic steroids increase muscle mass. Antiinflammatory steroids (or corticosteroids) can reduce swelling, pain, and other manifestations of inflammation.


Types of steroids

Anabolic steroids - 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. All anabolic steroids are chemical derivatives of the male sex hormone, testosterone. Anabolic steroids work by binding with the cytoplasmic (free within the cell) androgen receptor.
Testosterone is the best known natural anabolic steroid, as well as the best known natural androgen. Anabolic steroids have been shown to increase weight gain, fat-free weight gain and muscle fiber area in conjuction with a strength training program.

Corticosteroids - Corticosteroids are a group of anti-inflammatory drugs similar to the natural corticosteroid hormones produced by the adrenal glands. In physiology, corticosteroids are a class of steroid hormones that are produced in the adrenal cortex. Corticosteroids are involved in a wide range of physiologic systems such as stress response, immune response and regulation of inflammation, carbohydrate metabolism, protein catabolism, blood electrolyte levels, and behavior. Corticosteroids have antitumor activity in lymphomas and lymphoid leukemias. Corticosteroids (steroids) may be used for hon-none replacement and for the management of some of the complications of cancer and its treatment. They are commonly used in severe cases of osteoarthritis, and they can be given orally, by injection, or occasionally injected directly into an affected joint.

Sex hormones - Sex hormones are a group of steroid hormones produced by the adrenal cortex. Estrogens and progesterone are referred to as female sex hormones, androgens as male sex hormones. Hormones that are produced in the gonads and promoted development and maintainence of the secondary sex characteristics and structures, prepare the female for pregnancy, and aid in development of gametes. Males produce testosterone, while females produce estrogen and progesterone. Female sex hormones are responsible for normal menstruation and the development of secondary female characteristics.

Prohormones - Prohormones are natural substances secreted by human glands which precede in the metabolic system the action of a potent hormone. Prohormones convert to anabolic hormones via enzymes in the liver. Prohormone is a precursor to a hormone, usually with minimal hormonal effect by itself. Common types of prohormones include 4-androstenedione, 4-androstenediol (4-AD), 19-norandrostenedione, 19-norandrostenediol, and 1-androstenediol (1-AD).


Steroids functions and uses

Steroids are used to increase muscle bulk and strength and to enable longer and harder athletic training sessions. Some users take steroids for cosmetic (body image) reasons. Steroids increase protein synthesis, promoting growth of muscles and bones. They reduce the recovery time needed between training sessions and enable athletes to train more intensively for longer periods. Anabolic steroids increase muscle mass. Antiinflammatory steroids (or corticosteroids) can reduce swelling, pain, and other manifestations of inflammation. Synthetic steroids are used in a variety of therapies to control respiratory problems, skin inflammation, ease joint inflammations, and to treat blood disorders.

Testosterone - Testosterone is a steroid hormone produced by the testes and adrenal glands. Testosterone is the most important of the male sex hormones. It is responsible for stimulating bone and muscle growth, and sexual development. Testosterone stimulates sperm production (spermatogenesis), and influences the development of male secondary sex characteristics. Testosterone is required for sperm production, the development of the male reproductive organs, and the emergence of male secondary sexual characteristics. The hormone is also required for the buildup of lean muscle mass.

Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) - Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is a steroid precursor produced by the adrenal gland and converted to testosterone or the estrogens by the body's tissues. Optimal levels OF DHEA are associated with increased energy, healthy immune and cardiovascular function, improved memory and elevated mood. DHEA is a cholesterol metabolite, it aids in the relief of stress. DHEA aids in the prevention of cancer. Low circulating levels of DHEA have been associated with a higher incidence of breast cancer in women.

Androstenedione - Androstenedione is an estrogen precursor hormone produced by the adrenal glands and the stromal tissue in the ovaries and later converted to estrone in the adipose tissues in the skin and appendages. ptimal testosterone levels give the body healthy red blood cells, a vital sex drive, rapid protein production, and a balanced immune system. It can also cause increased energy, heighted sexual arousal, and give a greater sense of overall well-being.

Hydrocortisone - Hydrocortisone (cortisol) is the main glucocorticoid secreted by the adrenal cortex. Hydrocortisone is responsible for maintaining our ability to process sugars, maintain our blood pressure and react to stress and illness. Cortisol helps the body respond to stress. Hydrocortisone stimulates gluconeogenesis to ensure an adequate fuel supply. It also makes fatty acids available for metabolic use. It increases mobilization of free fatty acids, making them a more available energy source, and decreases glucose utilization, sparing it for the brain.

Prednisone - Prednisone is a steroid that blocks inflammation of an allergic reaction. Prednisone puts down the body's response to the allergen (the cause of the allergy) and reduces swelling, redness, itching, and other symptoms of allergy. It also reduces the body's ability to fight infection. Prednisone decreases inflammation by preventing white blood cells from completing an inflammatory reaction. Prednisone may act together with anticancer drugs in helping to control the effects of the disease on the body.

Dexamethasone - Dexamethasone stimulates synthesis of enzymes required to decrease the inflammatory response. Dexamethasone is a strong anti-inflammatory agent. Dexamethasone is used to treat many inflammatory and autoimmune conditions. Dexamethasone is used to treat leukemia and lymphoma and may be used to treat some of the problems caused by other cancers and their treatment. Dexamethasone is used to prevent nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy, in combination with other drug

Estrogen - Estrogen stimulates the development of secondary sexual characteristics and induces menstruation in women. Estrogen is important for the maintenance of normal brain function and development of nerve cells. Estrogen is essential for the healthy development and functioning of the female reproductive system and in keeping bones strong and brain cells healthy. Estrogen is used therapeutically to treat breast and prostate cancer and osteoporosis, and to relieve the discomforts of menopause.

Nandrolone - Nandrolone is used to treat testosterone deficiency or breast cancer or osteoporosis. It is very similar in structure to the male hormone testosterone, and has many of the same effects in terms of increasing muscle mass. Nandrolone drugs are used in the belief that they are capable in increasing muscle strength and size, increasing muscle hardness, and also decrease body fat. They additionally reduce the fatigue associated with training, and the time required to recover after physical exertion.

Cholesterol - Cholesterol is a major precursor of cholesterol ester, bile acids, and steroid hormones and is a component of plasma membranes. It is a necessary component of all cell membranes. It is the precursor to all steroid hormone (including estrogen, testosterone, cortisol, and vitamin D). It is the leading organic molecule in the brain and is needed for brain function. However, too much cholesterol in the bloodstream can be unhealthy, it builds up in the artery wall and can lead to the signs and symptoms of coronary heart disease.


Steroid abuse

Steroids are primarily used by bodybuilders, athletes, and fitness buffs who claim steroids give them a competitive advantage and/or improve their physical performance. Also, individuals in occupations requiring enhanced physical strength (body guards, construction workers, and law enforcement officers) are known to take these drugs. However, steroid misuse or abuse has been associated with health problems and undesirable outcomes. Side effects of steroid use can include hair loss, liver problems, insomnia, acne, headaches, jaundice, hypertension and high cholesterol. Men who use steroids can experience shrinking testes, gynaecomastia (enlarged breasts) and prostate and fertility problems. Females may experience a deepened voice, increases in body and facial hair, menstrual irregularities, and an enlarged clitoris. Males may experience testicle shrinkage, infertility, and breast development. In addition several psychological effects, such as increased aggression and hostility, irritability, anxiety, paranoia, mood swings, depression, and suicidal thoughts may also occur. Steroids can permanently stunt the growth of adolescents. Steroid abuse can have profound effects on the mind, causing temporary personality changes in some. Psychological side effects of steroids include irritability, agitation, euphoria or depression. Insomnia can also be a side effect. These changes in appearance and mood are often more apparent with high doses of steroids. Steroids may also cause a redistribution of fat, leading to a swollen face and abdomen, but thin arms and legs. An increase in susceptibility to infections may occur with high doses of steroids. Steroids reduce calcium absorption through the gastrointestinal tract which may result in osteoporosis, or thinning of the bones. Prolonged heavy use of steroids can permanently damage the liver, causing cancer, jaundice, bleeding, and hepatitis.