What are the risks of taking steroids? What is actual science and what is only a myth regarding the effects and side effects of steroids? We do hear about steroids, but there seems to be an impenetrable fog surrounding the issue: are anabolic steroids actually dangerous and if yes, how dangerous? What are they going to cause and are those consequences and side effects real, serious or something you can easily get over with. Do they have an effect on the long run, or you can “clean” yourself just by stopping the steroid taking cycles?
To answer those, first let's take a look why would actually anybody take steroids? You might find an easy answer to that: by professional bodybuilders to enhance their looks, but wait just a second. That is not the entire truth.
Steroids are used for many reasons. Sometimes they are prescribed absolutely legally by doctors, even for elderly because of medical reasons. They might be used by athletes as well to enhance their performance and yes, they can be used by bodybuilders for some acceleration of the normal muscle building process.
What are steroids and what kind of steroids exist?
Steroids, as they in the common use are referred to are synthetic versions of hormones, which our body produces naturally. (Hormones help each and every cell to perform their job, our body processes to take place flawlessly, at least that's what they do when are in balance.) The chemicals, named steroids are meant to enhance in one way or another those processes.
There are two main types of steroids, namely corticosteroids and anabolic steroids. Both can be found in modern medicine. So, we would like to avoid utterly sealing their fate as some shady potion of which one only can abuse. Not at all. They have their place.
Anabolic steroids are synthetic versions of testosterone, the primary male hormone. Patients may lack this and in those cases, it might well be prescribed. They can be injected or taken orally.
Corticosteroids are the chemical form of cortisol, again a hormone which our body produces naturally. It is a medicine meant to decrease inflammation, often used to treat rheumatologic diseases.
What are anabolic steroids used for?
As a result of the usage of anabolic steroids, the muscles may become stronger, bigger and faster than they would ever become naturally. Steroids are used to enhance the characteristics of muscles and that is just the thing they do. Enhance the muscle building process, enhance performance if we are talking about other sports than bodybuilding. Nevertheless, we might want to consider rethinking the impression that steroids can actually make super-humans, like in the movie “Limitless”. You can't just take a pill and with no personal contribution become a superhero overnight, or as in the movie, in thirty seconds. Great movie, though, but still just a film. Reality is less “romantic”. Even if those cases, to which experts refer to as “abuse”, without extremely hard work invested, a steroid alone can not do much. As I previously said, they are meant to “enhance”. And zero multiplied with zero will still remain zero. Hence they can improve, they are no magic potion.
How do steroids improve the looks and help build muscles?
We could start answering that by understanding how we actually build muscles in the first place. The “building” and eventual increase in the size of the muscle, changing it's overall aspect, is obtained through protein synthesis and the process of cellular repair. The muscles we think of when we speak of “muscles” are actually the skeletal muscles. (FYI: for example, the heart is also a muscle, but it is called cardiac muscle.) They are made of long fiber chains containing proteins. Bundles of thousands of fibers make up the muscle itself. When an athlete engages in a heavy workout, always stepping a little bit further than the previous threshold, this structure is damaged causing micro-tears in the muscle fibers. The body naturally repairs this damage by mending the torn fibers. Repeated damage to the muscle tissue and the necessary repair process results is a muscle that is larger, stronger than before. In this way, with each additional workout, the athlete can add bulk, strength, and speed, with the amendment that the “damaging” process is accompanied with the proper rest time and nutrition. For a normal person, it takes 48 hours between workouts for the muscles to repair themselves. The anabolic steroids speed up that process, so the recovery may take only 12 hours.
With steroids muscle repair can come faster, the performance ceiling of the muscle may also be raised. As a result, the muscle can be exposed to more stimuli, the individual athlete can work out more frequently, more intense and with a shorter recovery period.
What are the side effects of steroids? Are there any?
Sure, there are. Everything may have a side effect. Probably even broccoli. Humans are individuals, which might have individual reactions to everything even if abuse hasn't taken place. And naturally, if an overdose of a certain drug occurs, we have to expect the most varied reactions.
Steroids are very powerful hormones. As previously said, we already produce them naturally and in case we don't, the proper quantity is prescribed by qualified medics. In those cases the side effects are minimal if any, the problem occurs when we don't want to hand out the organism that lacks something, in order to perform naturally, but when we perform naturally nevertheless, we want to perform at a higher standard as common, to over-achieve goals. Hormonal balance is like a fine Swiss watch. Making changes may have massive effects on overall body health. Some claim, that can affect the brain, liver or kidney functions or have an effect on the heart too, causing it to enlarge, because that is also a muscle in spite of not being a skeletal one. But we can only talk in terms of “may and might”. There were athletes who died at an early age of heart attacks or liver or kidney failure, which automatically raises some questions.
The very problem is that studying the effects of steroids is a difficult one. Even the scientific community debates on its negative effects. Some doctors claim, yes it effects each and every organ, it can cause diseases that are more likely to have when you are in your seventies or eighties, like some serious heart conditions or mysterious breakdown of vital organs. But yet still we can't name an amplifying medical research over more decades to study the dosages, cycles it's effects and side effects.
What to expect from steroids?
You should not get any false hope, that you can get from Spider-man to Hulk with simply eating chicken breast and rice on a non-stop basis, nevertheless, should anybody get the illusion of steroids as miraculous drugs transforming our bodies overnight. It will still take a lot of work, a lot of training and dedication to achieve good results in any sport and upon everything, our genetic material also plays a huge role in determining our physical boundaries.
But why so much frustration?
Is our body just not enough? Is the performance of which our bodies are capable of, not enough? It seems that our expectations are much higher than what nature ever thought we would need to survive. Body modification and the reach towards achieving something greater than what the average is or has is within our nature, that is how we evolved, nevertheless, besides this actually common goal, we should have evolved mentally also. Our understanding of nature, the flow of natural processes should have evolved with us. Unfortunately, they didn't. We are not taught in school, we are not taught by our parents because they also have no idea.
So, the willing but knowledge-lacking youngsters now have the means to turn to any counterfeit drugs made in underground laboratories which actually overflow the market in the hope of becoming “more”.
Some believe that more than 50% of the steroid users aren't even professional athletes. They are common, everyday people just trying to look better.
Society is obsessed with looks, it always was in one way or another. But nowadays also due to the media, there is an even greater psychological pressure, like in no previous era.
I am no doctor, but I read a lot and watched a lot of documentaries actually trying to find out more about steroids. The information is overwhelming, despite all that there is no concrete information how actually to use steroids from accredited heath specialists. A common source of any information is the internet and as far as that goes, we truly might have our doubts of the scientific background of any information collected from there. The world wide web contains just everything its name tells us: everything about the wide world, written about the wide world itself. Everybody has an opinion and a belief. And now they also have this otherwise fantastic playground to manifest, the only problem is, that when health comes in the discussion, we must ask ourselves: is it really the best source we could inspire ourselves from?
Steroid use is in some ways like prostitution. It is illegal nevertheless a lot of people use it regardless. The question occurs, wouldn't it be better to make it legal but offer a full description of usage available for the enthusiastic youngsters who are using it anyways? Wouldn't it be much safer and wouldn't we avoid any unnecessary illnesses or death by doing so?
Because steroids have side effects? Of course. All of the drugs have. But are they necessarily lethal or cause serious diseases? Nobody actually knows for sure. But one thing is for sure. If you misuse any drug it may harm you.
I even hate using any medicine, even antibiotics. Have you ever read their directions of use and the possible side effects? Scary, really. So each and every individual must think and judge well the “worth it” or “not worth is” factor.
Would you put your health at risk just to achieve the admiration of others with your looks or the achievements you can make with your enhanced body? Share your view, I am really curious knowing what others think of that.