What Is the Use of Steroids?
Steroid hormones are a group of chemically-produced, biologically active substances. They function to regulate or coordinate the growth, development, metabolism and functions of all tissues and organs in the body. Most commonly used steroids are anabolic (increases) androgenic (decreases) hormones. All of these types of steroid hormones come in synthetic forms, which make them easier to manufacture, distribute and use.
A steroid is a chemically-active natural substance with four main rings arranged into a certain molecular configuration. Steroids have many primary biological functions; the most significant ones include as key elements of cell membranes that regulate fluidity; as metabolic signaling molecules; and as important regulators of blood pressure, cardiovascular function and growth. Some steroids are metabolically inactive, while others stimulate anabolism (growth) or inhibit catabolism (relaxation). A very small number of steroids have multiple functions, and they are called non-steroidal drugs. These are substances other than steroids that have significant physiological effects; however they are not capable of acting on any of the above mentioned cellular processes.
Although steroids are primarily used to increase anabolism and reduce catabolism (muscle atrophy), they can also be used to increase endurance and suppress some forms of cancer. Steroid hormones have been used to treat a wide range of disorders including atherosclerosis, arthritis, breast enlargement, obesity, cardiovascular disease, gall bladder issues, HIV, hepatitis and multiple sclerosis. However, steroid misuse can lead to harmful side effects that can lead to long-term damage. In fact, steroid abuse can result in serious complications such as liver failure, renal failure and even death. It has been estimated that some 90% of people who suffer from serious steroid side effects report using illegal steroids at least once.
The most widely known and abused form of steroids are anabolic androgenic hormones (commonly referred to as HGH), a group of compounds derived from the adrenal glands in the body that are essential for the normal production of human growth hormone. As growth hormone levels decline with age, many people experience slowed physical development and loss of muscle mass and strength. Because of their role in regulating human growth hormone, steroids are used by some athletes to boost growth and promote enhanced strength and stamina.
Growth hormone (GH) is secreted by the pituitary gland and stimulates the release of amino acids into the bloodstream to increase protein synthesis and tissue maintenance. The amino acids stimulate the creation of new tissue and help to remodel and replace old cells. Unfortunately, as the levels of growth hormone decrease, the individual also ages.
As anabolic androgenic steroids help stimulate the production of the growth hormone by allowing the pituitary gland to secrete more HGH. While this helps to increase energy and muscle mass and height, the excess HGH actually slows the rate of bone growth in adults. These steroids also affect muscle mass and strength, causing many people to gain weight without gaining lean muscle mass. Another side effect is that the growth hormone stimulates the production of certain neurotransmitters. The primary neurotransmitters released by the brain are dopamine, norepinephrine and epinephrine, which control appetite, anxiety, mood and memory.
When taken in excessive quantities, steroids can cause a host of adverse side effects including depression, fatigue, irritability, increased susceptibility to infections and pain, skin problems, depression and increased thirst, memory loss and kidney damage. While there are no documented cases of serious health risks with regular use, there have been reports of heart attacks, sudden death, irregular heartbeat, and nerve damage.
There are several popular uses for steroids, especially anabolic forms of growth hormones, but some side effects should be expected. If you take anabolic steroids regularly, talk with your doctor or health care provider about your particular risk factors and possible health benefits associated with the use of these supplements.