In 2007, a Canadian wrestler Chris Benoit killed his wife and son in his own home and then committed suicide. This event happened right before he won his third World heavyweight title. The investigation found out the cause of the tragedy was not just a normal outburst of rage, it was caused due to steroids. Yes. Chris had been using too much testosterone over the years to convert his body mass into muscle faster. In the end, the abuse of steroids led to Chris's recklessness and brought death to his family. Shocking, isn’t it? Well, this wasn’t an exceptional story.
Any person with an abnormal level of steroids in his body can pose a danger to others. Now we're going to talk not only about testosterone but also about other hormones that radically change the working of your body and can make you a completely different person.
So what even happens to your body when you take steroids? Are there major risks to this performance-enhancing drug? What are the side effects other than abnormal rage? Find all your answers here.
This Article Includes:
- What are Steroids and how do they work?
- Steroids and Changes in behavior
- Abuse of Steroids & Obesity
- Post-Steroid complications
What is a steroid?
Steroids are man-made derivatives of testosterone, the male hormone. Intake of steroids synthesizes protein and helps promote muscle growth. The types of steroids include anabolic and growth hormones. Bodybuilders and gym-goers take anabolic steroids.
Types of anabolic steroids include oral and intramuscular injection. Steroids that are taken orally have a half-life of several hours, while injected steroids have a half-life of several days.
Now, what happens when you try gaining muscles without steroids.
Every time you pump a weight at the gym your muscles experience tears. Your body naturally recovers by forming new muscle protein strands to repair damaged muscle fibers. Over time, these strands increase in thickness and number. Ultimately, if muscle protein synthesis (repair) is greater than muscle protein breakdown, your muscles will start showing growth.
The degree of growth is largely regulated by testosterone, which increases protein synthesis. That’s why, in general, men have larger muscle mass as compared to women due to their high levels of testosterone.
How do Steroids fix this?
Now the steroid comes to the rescue. It includes some chemicals that can be used to treat muscle breakdown, headaches and, even sex hormones like estrogen and testosterone. Steroids mimic natural testosterone with the intention to enhance performance and are used by more than 20% of gym-goers. The expression of your genes will begin to change within a single day of taking steroids.
Steroids easily enter your cells and attach to your DNA. This activates hundreds of genes to increase protein synthesis while slowing the process of protein breakdown. In the end, people who take steroids are found with a muscular build that is 3 to 5 times more than usual. Steroids can also stop the differentiation of fat stem cells, thus leading to a decrease in a person's body fat. As days pass by, your muscles show an increase in size and strength than expected. But continued use of steroids shows visible changes in your behavior too.
Steroids lead to drastic changes in the body
Steroids can lead to the classic roid rage. Steroid receptors are found in parts of our central nervous system. A study revealed the results of athletes taking steroids. It showed that 20% developed higher manic (unreasonable hyperactivity and delusions) and depressive scores than non-steroid users. For female users, steroids can interfere with the reproductive cycle and may decrease sexual drive.
Masculinization is yet another sign. Surprisingly, it can occur both in male as well as female users. Women under steroids tend to gain deeper voices and start to grow more facial and body hair. Male users may experience sperm cell abnormalities and decreased count. Steroids can also disrupt the natural production of hormones.
Finally, steroids can cause a high level of acne in almost half of the users and increase the risk of heart stroke. So yes, steroids can certainly make you bulk up faster and improve your athletic ability, but as with most things, comes with a set of risks and side effects that you surely don’t want to experience.
Abuse of Steroid Causing Obesity & Weakness
There are people who want to grow their muscles fast. So they rely on steroids. But what if they overuse it?
If you increase your amount of steroids or testosterone intake, your irritable behavior is not the only noticeable change. You start gaining a lot of weight, and after that, if you didn't exercise, you would become obese.
Steroids cause weight gain by altering the water balance in the body. The normal function of the body for storing lipids, amino acids, protein, carbohydrates, glucose, everything changes. These factors contribute to weight gain by causing increased appetite and fluid retention.
Hence, many people on steroids notice increased fat in the abdomen, face, and neck. Even if you successfully control steroid-induced weight gain, you’re going to face other issues because of this fat redistribution.
Another danger is a lack of testosterone. If you use steroids for a long time, the body gets used to the artificial hormone and stops producing it naturally. Men who abruptly stop taking steroids suffer shrunken genitals, decreased attraction to women, muscle weakness, and constant stress.
Conclusion: Post-Steroid complications
Health risks surrounding steroids heavily outweigh their little benefits. Steroids are damaging in nature, both physically and psychologically. Using steroids is much more dangerous for teens because their bodies are not fully matured. Unfortunately, premature death is very common among steroid users (Mumbai: the death of an Indian bodybuilder due to steroid abuse, read here).
Steroids may seem to be the best and easiest way to enhance your body, but they only work for so long. Once the dose is over and side effects start surfacing, the user will have trouble exercising. He/she may not even be able to exercise at all. Therefore, everything that they have worked for will goes down the drain. Steroids are addictive, once the user stops taking them, their body will crave and need steroids to function. It will take time for the body to be able to function normally as it once did.
Hence, it is healthier and more beneficial to train naturally. Producing similar results is possible by following a properly balanced diet and a regular exercise routine.
Many people have become successful bodybuilders and athletes while remaining natural. Putting the extra time and effort plus hard work into accomplishing your goals is much more rewarding and satisfying than relying on drugs for a "quick fix".