Steroids are defined by The Partnership for a Drug Free America as a "group of compounds that are closely related to testosterone." Steroids are used both legally and illegally. Medical use of anabolic steroids to treat conditions such as anemia is considered legal and is controlled by a medical professional. Many athletes and bodybuilders use anabolic steroids illegally to gain a "competitive edge." Steroids are available in tablet form that can be taken orally and in a liquid form that is commonly injected. Steroids, like any other drug or supplement, have both positive and negative effects on the body.
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Steroids are often used for the "positive" effects that are associated with them. Steroids accelerate recovery and healing and are often used during injury treatment. Many bodybuilders take steroids for their ability to increase lean muscle mass and muscle definition and increase strength. Steroids are often used by athletes to help increase the effectiveness of training regimens.
The negative effects associated with steroids far outweigh the positive. The extensive list of negative side effects of steroids affects both men and women alike. Acne, bad breath and baldness are the least severe of commonly reported side effects. Regular steroid use dramatically increases the risk of developing several conditions such as cancer, psychosis and diseases of the kidneys, liver and cardiovascular system. Steroids have been shown to decrease testicular size and promote breast growth in men while contributing to the growth of facial hair and deepening of the voice in women.
Training & Performance Effects
Steroids are often used to enhance sports performance and increase the benefits of training. Although there are positive training benefits associated with steroid use, there are detrimental effects associated with their use as well. Use of steroids greatly increases the risk of muscle tears and tendon injuries. The occurrence of muscle cramps is also dramatically increased with steroid use, which can impact training regimens and athletic performance.
Although anabolic steroids do have positive effects and have a place in the medical field, they should only be used under medical supervision and should not be used long-term. All steroids have side effects, both positive and negative. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that steroid use is increasingly popular among younger individuals which can have a lasting effect on their health. It is important to full understand the health effects of steroid use and to ensure that they are used properly and for the correct purposes.