Science of SteroidsOver the better part of this century, athletes have sought to increase the natural performance of their bodies by using various means. And while most opted for the development of their muscle mass by using standard techniques, such as lifting weights, running, or other methods, some started taking to artificial substances, which rapidly promoted the growth of muscles and the expression of male traits teenage boys experienced at puberty. These substances, anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS), most commonly known just as steroids, are actually a derivate of the testosterone male hormone. This is how they work.

The human body is designed in such a way that it has the ability to adapt itself to the harshest of environments. In order to do that, muscles in particular have to have the capability to increase their size over relatively-short periods of time. And this is the basic principle working out relies on. When we go to the gym and work out the biceps, for example, we actually create small tears inside the muscle fibers. These tears are, of course, repaired by the immune system.

The catch is that, upon repair, our body also compensates for the damage, by adding more material to the muscles than that ripped. If this process is repeated time and time again, then the muscle mass visibly grows, to the point where it becomes noticeable. In case of constant recurrence of the phenomenon, you will have the exact muscular mass you wanted before going to the gym.

However, steroids promote this kind of growth artificially, by simply traveling via the blood stream to the cells. There, they hook up to small portions known as androgen receptors, which pick up the molecules and carry them inside muscle cells. At that point, they combine with DNA and promote the release of a specific kind of proteins. These agents have the sole purpose of accelerating cell growth, and, in this case, they help muscle cells grow faster than they normally would.

Because this is an artificial process, the body is not always equipped to handle such massive and rapid changes – and that's why, in most cases, there are severe side effects, including elevated blood pressure, changes in cholesterol levels, and cardiovascular disease, as well as coronary artery disease. On the other hand, athletes can never be certain of what they're buying, because in some cases pharmacists have been proven to fill prescriptions for steroids that were approved for cattle use, and not for that of humans.

So, maybe under theses circumstances, it may seem like a good idea for those pondering on the thought of picking up steroid use to spend a little more time in the gym each week for the same results, rather than start down a slippery slope, which often leads to dire consequences.

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