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What is Testosterone?

By: Bob Howard

Anabolic steroids are derivatives of the male hormone Testosterone. Once scientists figured out the hormone's primary effects, they set about developing a class of drugs that maximized the anabolic effects (i.e., muscle building) while minimizing androgenic effects. Steroids were the end result of this research.

Much of the world's steroid drugs are made from plant compounds called sterols and for years, the popular wild yam plant was the source of much of the world's industrial supply. The reason is because, at the molecular level, steroids and sterols are virtually identical. In fact the much-hated fat molecule, cholesterol is in the same family as steroids and the body uses cholesterol to manufacture natural hormones. They all have what biochemists call the steroid nucleus.

It only takes the adding or removal of a few atoms to convert a plant sterol into an anabolic steroid or a hormone. To allow oral steroids to survive the digestive process, biochemists have modified the 17-carbon position on the nucleus ring. Of course this modification is what makes oral steroids more dangerous than Injectable steroids.

As with testosterone, it wasn't long before athletes began using the drugs to assist their training. No one knows precisely when the first athletes started taking the drugs, but at the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki, Finland, organizers found syringes filled with clear liquid in athletes' locker rooms. Despite the availability of newer performance-enhancing drugs, steroids are still the most popular muscle-building drugs in the world. It seems the genie was let out of the bottle and has no intention of going back inside.

Steroids are believed to work by speeding up the conversion of protein into muscle tissue. In other words, they increase protein synthesis. Another theory is that they keep the body in positive nitrogen balance. Nitrogen is one of the primary ingredients of amino acids, and when levels drop the body may actually start burning muscle tissue as a fuel source - the last thing a hard-training athlete wants to happen. Steroids, however, seem to keep nitrogen levels high, which is the perfect environment for protein synthesis to occur. One of the problems faced by natural trainers is the risk of overtraining and putting the body in negative nitrogen balance. Not only will growth stop, they may actually lose muscle size. But steroid users can train for hours and still recover in time for the next grueling workout.

Before you rush out and make a deal with some back-alley character, keep in mind that, being derivatives of testosterone, it's not surprising that steroids have many of the same side effects. Even though scientists tried to minimize the androgenic effects of the male hormone, total elimination is all but impossible. Steroid users will still develop acne, have elevated aggression levels, lose scalp hair, and may suffer decreased natural hormone production (remember, the body "thinks" steroids are hormones).

Perhaps the most unsightly side-effect is a condition known as gynocomastia or "bitch tits". Ironically, one of the breakdown products of steroids is the female hormone estrogen. As the male breast region also contains estrogen receptors, many steroid users develop pronounced female-like breasts. In most cases, the condition will disappear when the steroids are stopped, but in a few cases drugs or even surgery is needed. For women who use steroids, there may be a masculinizing of the vocal chords (which is usually permanent), development of facial hair, and - horror of all horrors - masculinizing of the external genitalia.

About the Author:
Article Copyright Bob Howard expert on bodybuilding. Are looking for more of his bodybuilding workouts articles? Visit http://www.bodybuilding-news.net

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The information offered here is not medical advice. It is for informational purposes only. We are not doctors. Anyone taking any new medications or prescription drugs should consult a doctor before taking the drug. Anabolic steroids are illegal and only should be taken under doctor supervision and approval.