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Anabolic Steroids

  • 02 May 2022
  • 3 min read

Why in News?

Two of India's track-and-field Tokyo Olympians failed dope tests for using banned anabolic steroids.

What are Anabolic Steroids?

  • About:
    • Anabolic steroids are usually used by bodybuilders.
    • They are essentially lab-made versions of the male hormone testosterone and have a similar effect of increasing muscle mass as the natural hormone does.
    • It also increases male characteristics in a person, such as facial hair and a deeper voice.
  • Different from Corticosteroids:
    • Anabolic steroids, however, very different from the steroids that are prescribed by doctors for inflammations, several autoimmune diseases, or to suppress the body’s immune system during a Covid-19 infection.
    • These medicines/steroids are called corticosteroids and are lab-made molecules that mimic the action of the hormone called cortisol that controls the body’s stress response, metabolism, and inflammation.
    • Unlike corticosteroids, anabolic steroids have limited medical use.

What are they prescribed for?

  • The anabolic steroids have a very limited medical role and are mainly used by doctors to help patients gain weight after a severe illness or injury.
  • It could also be prescribed in small doses to the elderly to build muscle mass and in some cases also helps to treat anemia.
  • Doctors may also prescribe the medicine to men who have low levels of natural testosterone.
  • Some doctors use it for the treatment of osteoarthritis (a condition where bones wear down over time).

How are anabolic steroids misused?

  • The anabolic steroids are misused mainly by those who want to bulk up as it helps increase one’s muscle mass.
  • A 2019 study from Bhubaneshwar of anabolic steroid users showed that only one of the 74 participants was a professional bodybuilder, with 18.9 % being students, indicating that it is used by people other than professional athletes.
  • Although no concrete estimate exists of the number of people using the drug across India, a 2018 study from Jammu and Kashmir found that 7.1 % of athletes used it.

What are the health impacts?

  • Use of anabolic steroids in the short-term can cause acne and hairfall.
  • Extended misuse of the substance can also lead to gynaecomastia (growth of breasts in men) and erectile dysfunction.
  • In women, it can lead to growth of facial hair. It may also cause extreme anger, paranoia, and impaired judgment.

Source: IE

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