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Steroid abuse is still on the rise, and not just among professional athletes and body builders. Despite numerous educational efforts by healthcare officials, many amateur athletes looking for that elusive edge still believe they can get it from a syringe or a bottle of pills. What they don’t realize is that steroids will give them a lot more than they bargained for.

Steroids are classified as anabolic (or anabolic-androgenic) and corticosteroids. Corticosteroids, such as cortisone, are drugs that doctors typically prescribe to help control inflammation in the body. They’re often used to help control conditions like asthma and arthritis. Anabolic steroids are synthetic hormones than can boost the body’s ability to produce muscle and prevent muscle breakdown.

Some athletes take these in the hope that they will improve their ability to run faster, hit farther, lift heavier weights, jump higher or have more endurance. Anabolic steroids are drugs that resemble the chemical structure of the body’s natural sex hormone testosterone, which is made naturally by the body. Testosterone directs the body to produce or enhance male characteristics such as increased muscle mass, facial hair growth and deepening of the voice and is an important part of male development during puberty.


When anabolic steroids increase the levels of testosterone in the blood, they stimulate muscle tissue in the body to grow larger and stronger. However, the effects of too much testosterone circulating in the body can be harmful over time. Acne, liver damage, increased risk of heart disease. These are just a few of the side effects associated with anabolic steroid abuse. The side effects are severe.

Men who use steroids also may develop gynecomastia (the development of breast) and edema from sodium and water retention. They also will be more prone to cardiovascular problems since steroids decrease high density lipoprotein levels (HDL) or good cholesterol and increase low density lipoprotein levels (LDL) or bad cholesterol. Steroids users are also at an increased risk for heart attack. An additional concern is alterations in psyche and behavior. Some users become aggressive or combative, developing “road rage” – extreme, uncontrolled bouts of anger caused by long term steroid use. Decreased immune functions are also a source of worry. 

Changes in the reproductive system, such as a reduction in testicle size, sperm count and mobility and a decrease in the levels of endogenous testosterone and other sex hormones are common. Unlike men, shoes side effects may be reversible once the abuse has stopped women experience irreversible changes, such as deepened voice, increased facial and body hair growth, enlarged clitoris and coarser skin. In addition, irregularities in or cessation of menstrual cycle, increased libido, aggressiveness, acne and decreased immune function may occur. Women are also prone to cardiovascular risks and change in the psyche and behavior that men experience. There is an even scarier risk of steroid abuse: Death. Steroid users who share needles are putting themselves at the risk of developing infections such as HIV, hepatitis or other viral diseases. The terminal risks of steroid abuse are not fully known, but some published cases of tumors and other cancers related to it have been reported.

Even now, researchers do not know all repercussions of steroid abuse on one body and future health. Controlled research is unethical and only information from abusers is usable: yet this data may be inaccurate, since most users are not forthcoming about the full extent of their steroid use. What most steroid users don’t realize is that they are placing themselves at risk for something they could achieve on their own. The best way to improve performance and increase muscle mass is to follow a well-designed program that challenges both your body and your mind. No drug can ever do that.

About the author:
Dr. Harish Batish

Dr. Harish Batish The writer, Dr. Harish Batish is Assistant Professor of Exercise BioChemistry and Sports Nutrition in the Department of Sports Science Punjabi University, Patiala. He has Published 30 Research papers in National and International referred Journals. He writes on nature cure, health nutrition and doping in the field of sports. Dr. Batish has participated in the Master Games in the 45 plusage group and won the Gold Medal in 100, 200 meters, shot put and long jump.

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