Steroid Use

Understanding Anabolic Steroids

As a bodybuilder I’m constantly striving for better performance. Most bodybuilders stay in top shape through a painstaking workouts and nutrition, giving us the will power to push our bodies to its maximum. Some bodybuilders and athletes, yes athletes too, turn to using performance enhancing drugs to enhance our performance. There are many ways to do this. For example I have personally known a Tour de France athlete increase the number of his red blood cells by injecting using a blood-stimulating hormone called erythropoietin. Red blood cells carry oxygen, increasing his blood cells means more oxygen which gives him an increase in endurance. Bodybuilders generally turned to steroids, like testosterone growing our muscles faster and stronger giving us an advantage in strength and power, that’s why so many athletes use it in their preferred sport to gain an adage.

So how do Anabolic Steroids work?

Anabolic steroids have two major functions. First, they are androgenic, being responsible for control of “male” characteristics. Before we are born, testosterone directs the formation of male characteristics in the growing embryo, and at puberty, raised levels of testosterone direct the changes as a boy grows into a man. Second, these steroids are anabolic: they regulate anabolic processes such as synthesis of protein in muscle, formation of blood cells, and the emotional and physical aspects of sexual function

Testosterone is produced naturally by the testes and circulates through the blood, acting on cells throughout the body. Much of this testosterone is transported inside carrier proteins in the blood, including serum albumin and sex hormone binding globulin. These carriers slowly release testosterone, which slips through cell membranes and into cells. Once inside, a cellular enzyme often converts it to an even more active form, 5-alpha-dihydrotestosterone. Then it finds its way to the nucleus, where it binds to the androgen receptor and changes the expression of a wide variety of genes, turning on various anabolic and androgenic functions.

History of Testosterone Supplements

Testosterone was discovered in 1935. However after its discovery it was soon realized that it could not be taken orally, the liver removed it from the blood. Eventually testosterone was modified that either mimic testosterone or are converted to testosterone in the body, known today as anabolic steroids. It was in the early 60s that bodybuilders discovered its unique properties in the increase of power and has been used by all types of athletes ever since.

Testosterone is created step-by-step by a collection of enzymes, starting from cholesterol. The enzyme,17-beta hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase, performs the last step in this process, converting androstenedione into testosterone.These enzymes provide the basis for several “dietary supplements” that have close connections to anabolic steroids. Until 2004 (when it was banned by the FDA), you could buy androstenedione as a supplement. It is converted to testosterone in the body, and shows about a tenth of the activity of testosterone. Dihydroepiandrostenone (DHEA), however, is still sold as a supplement. It is two metabolic steps away from testosterone, requiring the action of two enzymes to create the active form. Once testosterone gets into cells, it binds to the androgen receptor and modifies the expression of many anabolic and androgenic genes. The androgen receptor is very similar to the estrogen receptor, with a domain that binds to the proper sequences of DNA and a domain that binds to testosterone.

In 1975, the International Olympic Committee placed steroids on their list of banned substances, and most professional sports organizations currently ban their use.

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