INFORMATION ON ANABOLIC STEROID LAW
Anabolic steroids, sometimes called “anabolic/androgenic steroids,” are relatively old pharmaceuticals, but despite the fact that they were first explored by primitive experiments in the 1800s and synthesizedroughly a century ago, their mechanism of action is yet to be fully understood. This holds true for both the naturally occurring steroids, such as testosterone and dihydrotestosterone, as well as the wholly synthetic steroids such as Anavar (oxandrolone), Deca-Durabolin (Nandrolone decanoate), and Primobolan (Methenolone enanthate). This page provides information on anabolic steroids.
However, the effects can largely be grouped into two categories, genomic (related to effects within the cell) and non-genomic (outside the cell or on the cell’s membrane). Genomic effects occur when the hormone binds to receptors in the cytoplasm, which then travel as a pair (the receptor and the steroid) to the cell’s nucleus to alter gene expression (mRNA). This process is fairly well understood.
However, nongenomic effects are less well-understood and are generally assumed to be mediated by the steroid binding to receptors in the cell membrane which then activate “secondary messengers”. These effects are currently a matter of ongoing research within the scientific community, and are frequently referred to as direct and indirect androgen action(s).
Numerous steroids show very poor binding to the androgen receptor while still displaying a remarkable muscle-building and fat-burning effect. On the other hand, the opposite is also true, with steroids binding very tightly to the receptor yet being hardly anabolic at all. So you can see why there is some debate on whether steroids act primarily in a direct or indirect way (or both).
Once in the body (speaking in very general terms) steroids produce a variety of effects, such as increasing nitrogen retention and protein synthesis (which is one of the major reasons they are so good at building muscle – the more protein you eat, the more gets synthesized into new muscle tissue). At the same time, they also increase the amount of Growth Hormone (GH) which has profound effects on body composition. Another benefit is increased red blood cell production – and although this is not as pronounced as we’d see with something like erythropoietin (EPO), it’s still measurable and will serve to increase the stamina and work capacity of the steroid-using athlete. There are also measurable effects that steroids can have on the Central Nervous System (CNS) and even the glucocorticoid receptor (this is the receptor for cortisol, the stress hormone, which steroids are thought to reduce the activity of; another reason they help build muscle).
Anabolic steroids also have a profound effect on the body’s energy systems and the production of Adenosine TriPhosphate (ATP). This is the metabolic pathway used for quick bursts of energy, such as the beginning of a sprint or a very heavy set of bench presses. This is one of the primary reasons that we find anabolic steroids to be very good at increasing strength and performance in power sports such as field events or football, but less effective for events that rely on other metabolic pathways (marathons, etc…).
Depending on the steroid (and remember, we’re talking about anabolic/androgenic steroids here), they can also be metabolized into other steroids or estrogens. Testosterone, for example, is naturally metabolized within the body to both dihydrotestosterone (another anabolic steroid) and estrogen (the primary female sex-hormone). This occurs through enzymes called 5 alpha reductase (5ar) and aromatase, respectively. Of course, it goes without saying that this process will happen with endogenous hormones (that is to say, ones that are found naturally within the body) as well as exogenous ones (that come from outside the body). For example, Nandrolone will be metabolized into dihydronandrolone by the 5ar enzyme, while methyltestosterone (an oral form of testosterone) will be metabolized into methylestradiol.
Of course, certain steroids, such as those derived from dihydrotestosterone can’t be metabolized into estrogen, while still others (those with a 4-chloro attachment, for example) can’t be converted to estrogen.
As you can see, while anabolic/androgenic steroids are not 100% understood, they represent a wellresearched and well-characterized body of pharmaceuticals, with a robust set of known effects and mechanisms of action.
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