Anabolic Steroids

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Question

What are anabolic steroids and what are their risks if used illegally?

Answer

Anabolic steroids affect body growth and metabolism and can carry multiple risks and side effects if used improperly. Used legally, doctors use steroids to treat certain types of anemia, help certain people gain weight, for women with a certain type of breast cancer, and delayed sexual development in boys.

Illegal steroid usage and side effects

Athletes are tempted to use them illegally because they improve muscle strength and performance. This type of illegal usage is unfortunate because anabolic steroids are associated with many side effects and health risks including lack of normal bone growth in adolescents. Since it's hard to study illegal steroid use, health risks and side effects posed by these drugs are not completely clear. In one study, more than 30% of men who used anabolic steroids reported side effects including increased or decreased sex drive, aggression, and muscle spasms. Anabolic steroids can cause a series of undesirable side effects including acne, enlarged breasts, irritability, baldness, and headaches.

Potential serious anabolic steroid side effects

Abuse of anabolic steroids has also been associated with heart attacks, strokes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and infertility. Even short term use (less than 2 years) will increase the risk of developing permanent liver problems, including cancer. In addition, people who inject anabolic steroids and share needles or use non-sterile technique are at risk for diseases such as AIDS and hepatitis.

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