Physiology: Animal Function and Reproduction

Endocrine System

How are anabolic steroids harmful to those who use them?

Anabolic (protein-building) steroids are drugs that mimic the effects of testosterone and other male sex hormones. They can build muscle tissue, strengthen bone, and speed muscle recovery following exercise or injury. They are sometimes prescribed to treat some types of anemia as well as osteoporosis in postmenopausal women. Anabolic steroids have become a lightning rod of controversy in competitive sports. The drugs are banned from most organized competitions because of the dangers they pose to health and to prevent athletes from gaining an unfair advantage. Adverse effects of anabolic steroids include hypertension, acne, edema, and damage to the liver, heart, and adrenal glands. Psychiatric symptoms can include hallucinations, paranoid delusions, and manic episodes. In men anabolic steroids can cause infertility, impotence, and premature balding. Women can develop masculine characteristics such as excessive hair growth, male-pattern balding, disruption of menstruation, and deepening of the voice. Children and adolescents can develop problems in growing bones, leading to short stature.


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