Steroids: Mechanism Of Action And Their Effects On The Human Body Research Papers Example

Type of paper: Research Paper

Topic: Body, Human, Muscle, Abuse, Violence, Bullying, Drugs, Health

Pages: 4

Words: 1100

Published: 2021/01/03

Steroids according to Klugger (2014) is a class of synthetic or natural organic compounds characterized by a 17 carbon atom molecular structures arranged in four rings (sec. 1). Being carbon-based compounds, steroids exhibit significant biochemical properties at both the cellular and tissue levels in the human body. Naturally, in the human body the steroid groups typically include all the human sex hormones, the bile acids, and the adrenal cortical hormones. Thus, according to Scovell (n.d.), steroids represent a family of somatic lipid molecules (amphipathic molecules) such as cholesterol (sec. 1). What is of primary concern, however, is steroid use and their effects on the human body especially among athletes. Thus according to Husak and Irschick (2009) the use of steroid to enhance athletic ability in the human performance arena has sparked a broad discussion as far as their effect (both long and short term) are concerned (sec. 2).
Numerous studies show that steroids have over the years over-inflated the popular demand among individuals especially sportsmen and women and compelled them to conform to the male muscles imagery. Within these spheres of thought, enhancing one’s body is deemed fashionable as it enables an individual to correspond with the muscular and the dexterous bodily shape portrayed by the media and advocated by the extension of time. Historical evidence reveals that since the 1950s, human athletes have in one way or the other attempted to enhance their athletic performance by using steroids. (review by Ryan 1981; George 2003; Hartgens and Kuipers, 2004 as cited in Klugger sec. 1). Nevertheless, whether steroids are clean sufficient remains controversial.According to National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) (2000), the commonest steroid used by athletes encompass a wide variety of anabolic forms packed with strains of the androgen testosterone. (as cited in "HEALTH - Research Report Series: Anabolic Steroid Abuse", Chapter 1). The choice of such steroids stems from the fact that most of these synthetic steroids possesses both the classical biological androgenic and anabolic effects on men (George, 2003 as cited in Klugger, sec. 1). Other synthetic drugs include steroidal supplements such as dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and androstenedione ("HEALTH - Research Report Series: Anabolic Steroid Abuse", chapter 2).
Scientific literature further divulges that testosterone is principally a male hormone naturally produced in the testis and which has a profound anabolic and androgenic effects. Its major anabolic effects include enhancing rapid tissues and cellular recovery from injury, stimulating somatic growth of muscles and promoting bone density. On the other hand, the androgenic or the masculinizing effects of the testosterone hormone is the growth, development and maintenance of the inherent male characteristics such as muscle mass, testicles, and facial hair. However, testosterone also occur in women though in minute amounts ("Steroids" sec. 1). With such numerous biological significance, steroids have a wider scope of medical applicability such as in the treatment of osteoporosis.
However, most men and women who use steroids do so illegally to increase lean muscle mass. Steroids are thus used to reduce the fat level within the body and to stimulate the discharge of testosterone whose high concentration causes the over-inflated growth of the muscular, as well as the skeletal structure of the body. For that reason, steroids mechanism of action stems from their ability to squelch the body's natural fabrication of the stress hormone cortisol preceding physical exercises. This is because naturally, the cortisol hormone is a muscle tissue destroyer and therefore keeping the levels of cortisol low reduces chances of bodily muscle damage. To accomplish this, Anabolic-Androgenic Steroids (AAS) works to block cortisol from binding to the muscle cell's receptor sites in the body. This action as previously revealed diminishes the muscle breakdown process. Consequently, less muscle breakdown translates to less muscle fatigue, which would allow an athlete to recover more quickly from strenuous exercises (Peterson, sec. 3).In addition, AAS also work by limiting the properties of naturally occurring muscle-regulating body hormones such as bile acids and estrogens and augmenting the cumulative effects of other hormones such as testosterone. Biologically speaking, muscle tissues are peppered with receptor sites specific to growth and which requires the correct “key” and “lock” combination to activate and access the sites. Nevertheless, AAS can activate these sites because their chemical alignment is so similar to the natural testosterone hormone. Once the muscle receptor sites are stimulated by these AAS, “a domino effect of metabolic reactions occurs” as the steroid, instructs the body to increase the muscle tissue production process. ("Steroids", sec. 3).In commenting on the mechanism of work and chemistry behind the effects of steroids on the human body, Fahey asserts that anabolic steroids work by enhancing the tissue building properties of the androgens while minimizing its androgenic (sex-linked) properties (sec. 2). To compound their effect on the human body, these synthetic hormones operate by further stimulating the receptor molecules in muscle cells, which in turn activate specific cellular genes to produce the required growth proteins. Steroids also accelerate the activation rates of enzyme systems involved in body protein metabolism. The acceleration of the enzymatic activation rates further enhances protein synthesis and inhibits protein degradation. This phenomenon is referred to as the anti-catabolic effects of AAS.
Even though steroids have sufficed the phenomenal image of the fit and muscular male body, they have had profound effects on the human body. According to NIDA, anabolic steroid abuse has increasingly been associated with a broad range of adverse side effects such as acne, cancers, and breast development in men, to unprecedented heart attacks. (sec. 1). However, according to Fahey the major influences of AAS on its users is the rebound effects of cortisol and its receptors with particular problems stemming from psychological addictions to the drugs (sec. 4). Studies reveal that increased levels of the cortisol hormone suppresses the immune system. This makes steroid users more prone to multiple diseases following the “off-use” period and years immediately after steroid administration. Other side effects of ASS are multifaceted spanning across general physical effects, impacts on the musculoskeletal system, psychological effects, and effects on the cardiovascular systems.
Conclusively, therefore, despite the widespread interest in steroids and their acclaimed effects on human athletic performance, these drugs have broad implications for the human wellbeing. For instance, the impact of steroids on the human hormonal balance are well documented. Results from numerous studies show that steroid abuse show potentially irreversible and reversible disruption in the proper production of hormones in the human body. Among the possibly reversible hormonal effects, include reduced sperm production and testicular atrophy in male. However, irreversible changes in men include gynecomastia (breast development) and male-pattern baldness. Among the female users, studies show that AAS abuse causes masculinization. Masculinization is expressed majorly by reduced breast size and lessened body fat. Other effects on women include enlarged clitoris, deepened voice, and coarse skin. Even though most of these impacts in female are reversible, continued administration of steroids renders them irreversible.

Works Cited

Better Health Channel. "Steroids." Better Health Channel. N.p., 18 Feb. 2015. Web. 25 Mar. 2015. <>.
Fahey, Thomas D. "ANABOLIC-ANDROGENIC STEROIDS: Mechanism of Action and Effects on Performance." Encyclopedia of Sports Medicine and Science. N.p., 19 Apr. 1988. Web. 25 Mar. 2015. <>.
"HEALTH - Research Report Series: Anabolic Steroid Abuse." The Endowment for Human Development - Improving Lifelong Health, One Pregnancy at a Time. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Mar. 2015. <>.
Husak, Jerry F., and Duncan J. Irschick. "Steroid Use and Human Performance: Lessons for Integrative Biologists." Integrative and Comparative Biology 49.4 (2009): 354 - 364. Web. 25 Mar. 2015. <>.
Kluger, Ronald H. "Steroid | Chemical Compound." Encyclopedia Britannica. 2014. Web. 25 Mar. 2015. <>.
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). "What Are the Health Consequences of Steroid Abuse?" National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Mar. 2015. <>.
Peterson, Dan. "How Do Steroids Work?" N.p., 19 Feb. 2009. Web. 25 Mar. 2015. <>.
Scovell, William M. "Steroids - Chemistry Encyclopedia - Structure, Water, Proteins, Number, Salt, Molecule, Atom." Chemistry: Foundations and Applications. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Mar. 2015. <>.

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