- 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?
- 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.