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Anabolic steroids is the familiar name for synthetic substances related to the male sex hormones androgens They promote the growth of skeletal muscle anabolic effects and the development of male sexual characteristics androgenic effects and also have some other effects The term anabolic steroids will be used through-out this report because of its familiarity although the proper term for these compounds is anabolic-androgenic steroids Anabolic steroids were developed in the late 1930s primarily to treat hypogonadism a condition in which the testes do not produce sufficient testosterone for normal growth development and sexual functioning The primary medical uses of these compounds are to treat delayed puberty some types of impotence and wasting of the body caused by HIV infection or other diseases During the 1930s scientists discovered that anabolic steroids could facilitate the growth of skeletal muscle in laboratory animals which led to use of the compounds first by bodybuilders and weightlifters and then by athletes in other sports Steroid abuse has become so widespread in athletics that it affects the outcome of sports contests In the United States supplements such as dehydroepian-drosterone DHEA and androstenedione street name Andro can be purchased legally without a prescription through many commercial sources including health food stores They are often referred to as dietary supplements although they are not food products They are often taken because the user believes they have anabolic effects Steroidal supplements can be converted into testosterone an important male sex hormone or a similar compound in the body Whether such conversion produces sufficient quantities of testosterone to promote muscle growth or whether the supplements themselves promote muscle growth is unknown Little is known about the side effects of steroidal supplements but if large quantities of these compounds substantially increase testosterone levels in the body they also are likely to produce the
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