The side effects associated with anabolic steroid drugs (AS) are controversial. If you go on many websites or online forums, you will encounter many habitual anabolic steroid users who claim to use the drugs with impunity. However, similarly to other drugs, the effects of AS depends on time and dosage; that is, whether you experience side effects, and to what degree, is a matter of how much, how many, and how long you stay on the drugs. There is also a genetic component involved, in that there may be previously occult medical problems that can be made more evident after steroid use. One example of this is tumors. While steroids don't directly cause cancer, they do boost levels of another hormone, insulin-like growth-factor-1 (IGF-1), which is known to speed the process of mitosis, or cell division. This is significant because the core mechanism of cancer is uncontrolled cell division. So, if you have a dormant tumor somewhere in your body, it may be activated by the increased IGF-1 that occurs as a result of high-dose steroid use. The fact that this scenario rarely occurs in younger steroid users can be attributed to the robust protective surveillance of the immune system, mainly "killer T-cells." which detect and destroy incipient tumors. Obviously, those with compromised immune systems (as could occur from poor health habits and lack of sufficient sleep and rest) are more susceptible to this tumor-activation effect.Interestingly, growth hormone, which is a favorite anabolic drug often used in conjunction with anabolic steroids, boosts immune function, and can even regenerate the thymus gland, where T-cells are produced. That is another reason why even high-dose steroid users rarely get cancer
Some side effects linked to high-dose steroid regimes are more common. These include gynecomastia, or the development of male breast tissue; acne; testicular atrophy; possible infertility (a future article in this publication will discuss that in detail); and male pattern baldness. Whether you experience any of these side effects depends on how much and how many of the drugs you use, as well as how long you stay on them. Male pattern baldness (MPB) is usually attributed to a metabolite of testosterone, dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which can activate genes for MPB. If, however, you don't have these genes, no amount of testosterone or exposure of hair follicles to DHT will cause you to lose your hair. In this era of voluntarily shaved heads, MPB is a bit of a moot point, anyway.
The more serious anabolic steroid side effects involve the liver and cardiovascular system. Most oral anabolic steroid drugs are structurally manipulated to resist premature liver breakdown. This usually involves a process called 17-alpha alkylation. This change causes oral steroids to accumulate in . . .