Steroids are chemicals that are secreted by the adrenal gland and other glands into the bloodstream. They work on the nervous system by blocking the release of certain neurotransmitters, hormones and substances. Most commonly used steroids outlet are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroids and prednisone. There are some rare toxicities that can occur if they are taken at too high of doses, these include liver toxicity and hypokalemia, which can cause reduced blood flow to the brain.
A steroid is a biologically inactive organic molecule with four carbon atoms in a structure called a proton body. They bind to a receptor on the cell surface, change the membrane permeability and participate in the recruitment and secretion of cells. They have two main biological roles: as key chemical components of cell membranes that regulate cell fluidity and hormone secretion; and as signaling substances. For example, steroids such as testosterone, cortisol, dehydroepiandrosterone and testosterone are used in the treatment of hypogonadism.
The primary function of testosterone in the body is the production of the male sex hormone, testosterone, in the testicles. Testosterone plays many roles in the body and is responsible for such things as the development of sperm, the maintenance of muscle mass and the development of voice. In most people, testosterone levels peak during puberty and slowly decrease with each subsequent menstrual cycle until menopause. Testosterone also plays a major role in the recovery and maintenance of skeletal muscle mass after weight training, and it has been hypothesized that steroids may play a part in the pathophysiology of arthritis.
However, there is controversy surrounding the use of steroids, particularly in athletes and people suffering from conditions that impair the immune system. Excessive exposure to steroids has been linked to the development of cancers of the breast, colon, lung, bladder, gallbladder, pancreas, ovary, stomach and prostate. These drugs are known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs. While they may ease symptoms of arthritic conditions and rheumatoid arthritis, steroids are known to increase the risks of certain types of cancer. It is not clear, therefore, whether steroids are beneficial or harmful to overall health and longevity.
Steroids affect the functions of the human body through their actions on the steroid receptors found on the outer membrane of the cells. They can either block the receptors or interfere with the cells’ ability to function normally. Animal studies have indicated that steroids reduce the effects of insulin on glucose transport into the cells and have negative effects on lipid metabolism.
While there is some evidence that steroids reduce nerve cell damage in the brain, other effects are less well established. Steroids reduce protein synthesis, affecting muscle tissue formation and function. They also stimulate cell growth and turnover, and have an effect on neurotransmission, the process by which messages traveling to different parts of the body are transmitted. In male reproductive organs, steroids lead to decreased sperm production, sex hormone production and libido. However, the long-term effects of steroids on the testicles and male fertility remain to be studied.