In today’s society in athletics, muscle mass and strength seem more important than in years past. It is believed that many athletes use anabolic steroids to increase their muscle mass and also their strength. Anabolic steroids are a group of synthetic hormones that promote the storage of proteins and the growth of tissue, sometimes used by athletes to increase muscle size and strength. Before the mid 1970’s the use of anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS) was used mainly by highly trained athletes especially those involved in weight training. Since then other athletes including those involved in recreational sports and non-competitive sports have started using the steroids. Steroids are also being used by many school age children especially those involved in sports in the schools. Everyone wants to be bigger, stronger, and faster and will do almost anything to gain this.
Scientists, researchers, and doctors have conducted many studies involving the use of anabolic steroids. These studies have been conducted on various athletes of different sexes and also involving many different sports. Comparison has also been made with athletes using anabolic steroids and those who do not use. A comparison has also been made using anabolic steroids compared to creatine.
Several effects of steroid use have been identified. These include an increase in low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and a decrease in high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. These lipid changes if allowed to continue over long periods of time could result in coronary heart disease (6). Some other side effects of steroids in men include shrinking of the testicles; reduced sperm count, infertility, baldness, development of breasts, and increased risk of prostate cancer. For women, some side effects include growth of facial hair, male-pattern baldness, changes in or cessation of the menstrual cycle, enlargement of the clitoris, or a deepened voice. For adolescents the side effects are growth halted prematurely through premature skeletal maturation and accelerated puberty changes. This could mean adolescents will remain short for the rest of their lives if they take anabolic steroids before the typical adolescent growth spurt.
The question has arisen as to whether or not steroids increase the size of the heart. Studies have been done on steroid using athletes compared to non-drug users. These studies found left ventricular hypertrophy and normal diastolic function with the non drug users. Concentric hypertrophy with impairment of diastolic function was found in the drug users. An increase in left ventricular mass with normal diastolic function was found in body builders and weight lifters using steroids (6).
When athletes participate in resistance training exercises without the use of anabolic steroids, it has been proven beneficial. Weight training can improve maximum oxygen consumption and cholesterol levels without the use of steroids (6).
A study was done...