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Steriods Essay, Research Paper

“Steroids.” It’s a familiar word with typically negative connotations, yet they have

benefits behind the drug also. No doubt you’ve heard about athletes who abuse

steroids. Or you may be all too aware of the bad side effects associated with

steroid medications. Well I?ll be talking about steroids in depth. What steroids

are composed of, development of steroids, how it was given a bad name, how it

works in the major parts of the body, and better way steroids can be used.

What are Steroids? Steroids are a class of hormones synthesized from

cholesterol. All steroids share the same basic four-ring carbon structure, but

differ in the number of carbon atoms attached to the number 17 carbon atom in

the structure, and in the manner in which hydrogen (H), oxygen (O), and the

hydroxyl (OH) groups are attached to the carbon atoms. There are various types

of steroids. For example, corticosteroids, such as prednisone or cortisone, are

anti-inflammatory, catabolic compounds that break tissue down. They are

completely different from the substances known as anabolic steroids. The term

“anabolic steroids” commonly refers to steroids which are synthetically produced,

molecularly altered derivatives (or “analogs”) of testosterone. Naturally occurring

testosterone is the primary sex hormone found in men, produced primarily by the

testes. The adrenal glands are the primary source of testosterone in women,

where testosterone is produced in a much lesser (10 to 15 times lesser) amount.

The development of anabolic steroids, which testosterone, has both

anabolic (tissue building) and androgenic (masculinizing) qualities. The anabolic

effects are primarily muscle growth. The androgenic effects are the development

of secondary male sex characteristics, such as growth of facial and body hair and

deepening tone of the voice. Obviously, the anabolic effects are desirable for

sports performance and cosmetic appearance. In fully developed adults,

especially women, the androgenic effects are not so desirable at all. By the early

1950’s, scientists were trying to isolate testosterone’s muscle building properties

without the masculinizing effects. Synthetic anabolic steroids were developed in

this pursuit. Researchers discovered that by making certain modifications to

testosterone, such as by adding or removing certain elements at specific locations

on the molecule, the resulting compound had high anabolic effects with a

substantially reduced androgenic effect. The term “anabolic” instead of

“androgenic” steroid promotes the modification of the molecular structure to

enhance tissue building and minimize masculinizing effects. (However, because

the anabolic and androgenic qualities of these substances cannot be completely

separated, some experts prefer the term “anabolic/androgenic steroids.”) It is also

quite common to see both testosterone and anabolic steroids generically referred

to as androgens. One of the pioneers in the history of anabolics was John Ziegler,

M.D., who in collaboration with the pharmaceutical manufacturer CIBA,

introduced the oral steroid Dianabol to weightlifters in 1956. By the mid 1960’s,

scientists had created many different anabolic steroids and thousands of strength

athletes were using them, even to day.

Steroids got a bad name after dramatically improving arthritis symptoms

in the 1940s, cortisone was hailed as a “miracle drug.” But problems emerged.

People taking cortisone for months in doses high enough to relieve inflammation

routinely experienced harmful side effects. Physicians now recognize that

prolonged use of corticosteroids can lead to widespread problems affecting:

Metabolism–Your body tends to accumulate fat in your abdomen, around your

face (”moon face”) and on the back of your neck. Also, levels of blood sugar

increase, sometimes leading to or worsening diabetes. Muscular weakness

develops. Bones–Formation of new bone is inhibited and calcium is lost in the

urine. Osteoporosis and, sometimes, joint damage result. Eyes–Incidence of

cataracts increases. Skin–Thinning occurs. Blood vessels near the surface of

your skin become more visible. Skin bruises more easily. Wounds heal slowly.

Blood pressure–Elevations are common. Immune system–Your body produces

fewer disease-fighting antibodies, making you more susceptible to viral, bacterial

and fungal infections. Emotions–Some people develop agitation, euphoria,

insomnia and, rarely, psychosis.

Even though all these side effects are possible with use of corticosteroids,

it’s unusual for one person to have them all. These side effects don’t occur with

birth control and estrogen medications.

Anabolic steroids work in the body when steroids are taken orally. Then

proceed through the gastrointestinal tract to the liver, where they are processed

before going into the blood; steroids injected, go directly into the blood stream.

Eventually, however, all anabolic steroids wind up in the blood stream, carried

along with thousands of other types of molecules. How anabolic steroids work to

increase muscular size and strength is best explained on a cellular level. The cells

within the tissues of our bodies have certain areas that are receptive to some

free-floating molecules within the blood. These areas are called receptor sites.

There are receptor sites with an affinity for steroid molecules in our skeletal

muscle cells, for example. A steroid molecule being carried along in the blood

enters the muscle cell by diffusion and binds to one of these receptor sites. The

connection that is formed permits the steroid molecule to deliver a cellular

message or command to the receptor site to effect certain metabolic changes

within the cell. One of these primary metabolic changes is increased protein

synthesis and nitrogen retention, leading to increased size and strength of the

skeletal muscle cell. The connection of a steroid molecule and receptor site is

fleeting: once the steroid molecule delivers its cellular command, it moves on to

other receptor sites, delivering its message over and over until it is converted into

another compound or is excreted in the urine. This capacity of androgens to be

converted into other substances by chemical reactions and enzymes within certain

tissues of the body will be extremely significant later when we discuss potential

side effects.

Anabolics also enhance size and strength through a different mechanism.

Intense training causes the body to produce increased levels of cortisol, a

catabolic substance that causes muscle tissue breakdown. Anabolics have an

anticatabolic effect; that is, they prevent the breakdown of muscle tissue by

displacing cortisol from its receptors. Consequently, recovery processes are

speeded up and injuries, including the microscopic muscle damage incurred from

heavy training, heal faster. Some authorities believe that the anticatabolic

properties of steroids may be of equal significance to the anabolic properties.

Anabolic steroids are processed by the liver. Their first pass through the

liver is unusually harsh on the liver. For this reason, even moderate short-term

administration of oral steroids can effect liver function test readings. Elevated

liver counts indicating liver stress (toxicity) have been reported in recent studies

of somewhat moderate oral anabolic steroid therapy (daily doses of 40 and 80 mg

of oxandrolone). However, these elevated liver function readings will return to

normal after cessation of a moderate, short-term steroid cycle. When I was doing

my research I couldn?t find one case to the contrary. Further, it is recognized that

intense weight training alone often causes changes in liver function tests,

including SGOT, SGPT and LDH (These terms, are something that all physicians

monitoring athletes using anabolic steroids should be familiar with). The more

serious liver problems attributed to anabolic steroid use include hepatocellular

carcinoma (liver cancer) and peliosis hepatitis (blood-filled sacs within the liver).

Anabolic Steroids and the Heart don?t really mix. Kind of like oil and

water. Through the use of steroids, there is a big cardiac risk that might be

increased by the use of steroids. It is a subject of speculation and some

controversy. High blood pressure is perhaps “one of the most exaggerated

claims” of steroid-related health risks, and remains unconfirmed despite

numerous studies (Friedl, 1993). Regarding blood lipid levels, oral steroids in

particular seem to cause a reduction in HDL (high-density lipoprotein

cholesterol) levels in some steroid users. However, changes in the blood lipid

levels now appear to begin to recover within about a month after discontinued

use, and, in fact, most studies do not report an increase in total cholesterol

(Yesalis & Cowart). Better ways are to prescribe steroids that reduce side

effects in a major way or just to use steroid that help you, if you have

inflammatory joints, corticosteriods help make the swelling go down. Despite

side effects, corticosteroid drugs remain a cornerstone of medical treatment. One

reason is their ability to control a inflammatory as I just mentioned, which helps

the process when nothing else will do. Another reason is the development of

drugs with varying strengths and lengths of action. These newer forms of

corticosteroids allow physicians to prescribe and administer the precise amount

of drugs needed for the shortest period. Better ways of using steroids reduce side

effects. New modes of administration include: Intermittent and single

doses–Doctors usually prescribe corticosteroids once a day or every other day

instead of several times a day. This allows your system a brief, yet helpful,

reprieve from the drug. An every other day regimen avoids most side effects, but

if followed for months, still increases the risk of osteoporosis. Injection–A

single injection of a corticosteroid can relieve serious poison ivy reactions or

seasonal allergies. Direct applications–For asthma, inhaled aerosol

corticosteroids reach the lungs’ surfaces directly. By this method, drugs subdue

inflammation and improve breathing without affecting other areas of your body.

Directly applying corticosteroid creams to inflamed skin is virtually risk-free.

However, continual use on large areas, such as for psoriasis, can cause problems,

including thinning of your skin and reduced production of steroid hormones by

your adrenal glands.

In conclusion, it can be said that, ?The side effects of steroid use appear

to be minimal.? (Di Pasquale 1990) Despite hundreds of years of development

and over fourty years of use by athletes, many of whom are now well into

middle-age, we have yet to see or hear reports of and epidemic of

steroids-related deaths. In this day and age steroids are getting more and more

popular for young teenager who want a ?Hard Body? and think they can get it

in short time by using steroids. Just think about this, think of your health in the

long run if your deciding to deal with these kind of drugs. Steroids is also

becoming a familiar word everyday, and everywhere, and I think will be around

for a very long time.


encarta 97

steriods law


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