Anabolic steroids have many health benefits including removal of excess water from the body and the increase in the body’s metabolic rate, a process that results into the burning and conversion of excess fat into energy that the body needs to carry out daily routines without sensing exhaustion. But the National Institute on Drug Abuse associates anabolic steroid abuse with several adverse side effects, including acne and breast development in men, deepening voice in females, and heart attacks and liver cancer. While the findings are based on cases studies rather than empirical evidence, they suggest steroid abuse has several adverse health effects, and as result users of the drug should be careful and abide with the doctor’s prescriptions to avoid putting their lives at risk.
Effect on the Hormonal System
The abuse of steroids disrupts the normal production of body hormones, resulting in both irreversible and reversible changes. Some of the reversible consequences are the shrinking of the testicles and reduced sperm production. The permanent ones include male-pattern baldness and breast development in men and deepening of the voice in women.
Abuse of anabolic steroids also causes masculinization in the female body. Consequently, the skin becomes coarse, both body fat and breast size decrease, the voice deepens, and the clitoris enlarges. At the same time, women might lose their scalp hair and excessive growth of body hair, which if not checked in time, can be irreversible.
Effect on the Musculoskeletal System
The increase in the quantity of sex hormones including testosterone typically stimulates the growth of spurt that in ordinary cases appears during puberty and provides the indications to bring to an end growth too. If children take these drugs for any reason, the increased production of these hormones may signal to end of the growth of bones and other essential body organs. The ultimate effects can be unbearable in the life of the individual in future.
Effects on the Cardiovascular System
Various organizations including the National Institute on Drug Abuse have also linked steroid abuse with many forms of heart diseases and strokes. According to case reports that they rely on, abuse of steroids changes the levels of lipoproteins that carry cholesterol. Steroids, and in many cases oral steroids, decrease the degree of high-density lipoprotein and increase the proportion of low-density lipoprotein. These two conditions are known to be the leading triggers of a health problem that involves fatty substances being deposited inside arteries and disrupt blood flow, atherosclerosis. This condition can prevent the blood from reaching the heart and result into a heart attack. And if blood fails to reach the brain it may lead to a stroke.
The abuse of steroids also results in the increase in the risk that blood clots are formed in the blood vessels. This scenario has the potential to disrupt the flow of blood and eventually damage the heart muscles. Consequently, the heart is at a high risk of losing its ability to pump the blood efficiently.
Effect on the Liver
Abuse of steroids can also cause liver tumors, and another rare condition is known as peliosis hepatis. This situation involves blood-filled cysts forming in the liver. If the cysts or tumors rupture, internal bleeding results.
Government statistics show that many steroid abusers use non-sterile injection devices. In some cases, they share contaminated needles with their fellows. Further, some illegal manufacturers prepare anabolic steroid under non-sterile conditions. All of these factors expose abuses to life-threatening risks. These individuals acquire viral infections including hepatitis B and C and HIV Aids. They are also at risk of developing endocarditis, a bacterial infection that causes a very lethal inflammation inside the heart.
Health consequences of anabolic steroids abuse are severe. Incidences of life dangerous effects are evident. Users of steroids should, therefore, be careful to avoid the possibility of early deaths or irreversible health conditions.