There are differences between medicinal steroids and anabolic steroids. From Tokyo Olympics, being banned to the Noida police seizing fake drugs and supplements worth Rs 2 crore, anabolic steroids have often been in the news.
although not for the right reasons.
More than being a drug pescribed by doctors, anabolic steroids are usually used by bodybuilders. Anabolic steroids are also called androgenic steroids these steroids are essentially lab-made versions of the male hormone testosterone and have a similar effect in increasing muscle mass as the natural hormone does.
It also increases the male characteristics in a person such as facial hair and a deeper voice. But these are very different from the steroids that are prescribed by doctors for inflammation, several autoimmune diseases, or to suppress the body’s immune system during COVID-19 infection, these medicines are called corticosteroids.
Synthetic steroids first became known in 1939 when testosterone was successfully synthesised in Germany. This was initially used to treat depression and was also widely administrated to German soldiers during World War II.
According to Dr Ravi Sankar Erukulapati, Consultant Endocrinologist, Apollo Hospital Hyderabad, the abusive use of anabolic steroids can cause various problems in bodybuilders who take them to pump up their muscles.
If anabolic steroid is taken via injection or present in muscles building supplements, the various side-effects that one can incur by these steroids are excess of bloating, damaged liver, there could be damage to the normal testosterone access to the body because the exogenous harmon which is given to the body can suppress the normally secreted testosterone in the body.
It can also cause damage in the body in the long-term by damaging the heart, it can decrease sperm production in the male testes and it has various cosmetic side effects that one can be double up like greasy skin, acne, hair fall, etc.
In women, if taken can lead to the growth of facial hair. It may also cause extreme anger, paranoia, and impaired judgment. Long-term use can lead to kidney disease and even liver failure, damage and tumour, enlarged heart and high blood pressure.
Anabolic steroids are mainly misused by athletes and sportspeople nowadays. Although using steroid practice to bulk up muscle is fading away but people still take it following the advice of their gym trainers.
Anabolic steroids have very limited use by doctors to help patients gain weight after severe illness or injuries. It could also be prescribed in small doses to the elderly to build muscle mass and in some cases also helps to treat anaemia.
These are also prescribed by doctors to men who have a lower levels of natural testosterone. A 2019 study by Bhubaneswar anabolic steroid users showed that only one of the 74 participants was a professional bodybuilder, with 18.9 pc being students, indicating that it is used by people other than professional athletes.