What are anabolic steroids?
Anabolic steroids are a group of powerful compounds closely related to the male sex hormone testosterone. Developed in the 1930s, steroids are seldom prescribed by physicians today. Current legitimate medical uses are limited to certain kinds of anaemia, severe burns and some types of breast cancer.
Taken in combination with a programme of muscle-building exercise and diet, steroids may contribute to increases in body weight and muscular strength.
Steroid users subject themselves to more than 70 side effects ranging in severity from liver cancer to acne and including psychological as well as physical reactions. The liver and cardiovascular systems are most seriously affected by steroid use. In males, use can cause withered testicles, sterility and impotence. In females, irreversible masculine traits can develop, along with breast reduction and sterility.
Psychological effects in both sexes include very aggressive behaviour known as ‘roid rage’ and depression. While some side effects appear quickly, others, such as heart attacks and strokes, may not show up for years.
Signs of steroid use include quick weight and muscle gains (when used in a weight training programme); aggressiveness and combativeness; jaundice; purple or red spots on the body; swelling of feet and lower legs; trembling; unexplained darkening of the skin; and persistent unpleasant breath odour.