Last updated on: 10/7/2008 | Author:

What Are Steroids?

General Reference (not clearly pro or con)

The National Center for Drug Free Sport, an organization that provides drug testing for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), stated in an article titled “Drugs in Sports: Anabolic Steroids” published on its website (accessed Sep. 25, 2008):

“Steroids are hormones. Anabolic steroids or more precisely, anabolic/androgenic steroids are also referred to as ergogenic or performance-enhancing drugs. They are synthetic derivatives of testosterone, a natural male hormone…

[A]nabolic steroids are chemically manufactured. Steroids can be administered by injection, or can be taken orally. Injectable steroids are longer lasting in the body and can be detected in the body for a longer period of time.

From the 1930’s to the 1960’s scientists modified the structure of the testosterone molecule to produce anabolic steroids to increase muscle and body protein metabolism at dose levels which tend not to increase other secondary sexual characteristics. They should not be confused with steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as cortisone, corticosteroids.”

Sep. 25, 2008 - National Center for Drug Free Sport

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) stated in a June 2008 article “InfoFacts: Steroids (Anabolic-Androgenic)” posted on its website:

“Anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS) are manufactured substances related to male sex hormones (e.g., testosterone). ‘Anabolic’ refers to muscle-building and ‘androgenic’ refers to increased male sexual characteristics. ‘Steroids’ refers to the class of drugs. These drugs can be legally prescribed to treat conditions resulting from steroid hormone deficiency, such as delayed puberty, but also body wasting in patients with AIDS and other diseases that result in loss of lean muscle mass.”

June 2008 - National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)

The Association Against Steroid Abuse stated in an article titled “How Anabolic Steroids Work” posted on its website (accessed Sep. 25, 2008):

“Anabolic steroids are synthetic versions of testosterone, the body’s natural sex hormone. They assist athletes by facilitating efforts to gain strength and muscle mass for increased muscular endurance, power and speed…

Steroids possess both androgenic and anabolic properties. Some of the androgenic effects include changes in sexual characteristics such as shrinking of the testicles, hair growth on the body and face, hair loss on the scalp, and increased aggressiveness. Athletes are primarily concerned with the anabolic characteristics of steroids including accelerated development of the muscles, connective tissues, bones, and red blood cells.

Though the stimulus provided during weight training is necessary for maximum muscle development, steroids possess the inherent ability to build muscle with or without such training.

By increasing the user’s endurance, they help athletes train much harder, for longer periods of time, and accelerate muscle recovery. This allows the athlete to make continued progress at a rate far beyond normal capacity.”

Sep. 25, 2008 - Association Against Steroid Abuse wrote in an article titled “Anabolic Steroids,” published on its website on Sep. 6, 1999:

“Anabolic steroids — or more precisely, anabolic-androgenic steroids — are the synthetic derivatives of the naturally occurring male anabolic hormone testosterone. Both anabolic and androgenic have origins from the Greek: anabolic, meaning ‘to build,’ and androgenic, meaning ‘masculinizing.’ Testosterone’s natural androgenic effects trigger the maturing of the male reproductive system in puberty, including the growth of body hair and the deepening of the voice. The hormone’s anabolic effect helps the body retain dietary protein, which aids in the development of muscles.”

Sep. 6, 1999 -

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, an addiction and mental health hospital in Toronto, Canada, stated in a Mar. 13, 2008 article titled “Do You Know…Anabolic Steroids,” published on its website:

“Many kinds of steroids occur naturally in various hormones and vitamins. Drugs known as ‘anabolic steroids’ are made in laboratories and have the same chemical structure as the steroids found in the male sex hormone, testosterone.

Anabolic steroids come in the form of tablets, capsules, a solution for injection and a cream or gel to rub into the skin. Weightlifters and bodybuilders who use steroids often take doses that are up to 100 times greater than those used to treat medical conditions.

Regimented methods of taking steroids are believed to enhance the effects of these drugs and lessen harm to the body. However, there is no scientific evidence to back up these claims. Such methods include the following:

  • Cycling: a period of taking and then not taking the drugs in the belief that the drug-free cycle allows the body to recover normal hormone levels
  • Pyramiding: taking doses in cycles of six to 12 weeks, starting with a low dose, then slowly increasing it, and then decreasing the amount to zero, believing this allows the body time to adjust to the high doses
  • Stacking: taking two or more types of steroids, mixing oral and injectable forms, believing the different drugs interact to have greater effect.”
Mar. 13, 2008 - Centre for Addiction and Mental Health