Steroids Essay

Steroids Term paper

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Steroids are organic compounds that happen naturally in plants and animals. All steroids share the same basic ring structure. This is a chain of seventeen carbon atoms, looped around, and linked together by chemical bonds to form a four-ring structure. Steroids are very diverse and include bile ac-ids from the liver, toad poisons, all sex hormones, and adrenal steroids. The two main types of steroids are adrenal steroids and sex steroids. Due to the great therapeutic value of adrenal steroids, many synthetic steroids have been produced, some more potent than the natural hormones. Synthetic steroids include anti-inflammatory drugs, oral contraceptives, and a synthetic adrenal steroid used to treat adrenal insufficiency. Anabolic steroids are also synthetic and they mimic the male hormone tes-tosterone. Anabolic steroids are most often abused by athletes and can have serious side effects when taken improperly (Silver-stein, 1992, p.14). This is what will be covered in the follow-ing pages. Adrenal steroids or corticosteroids are one of the two main types of naturally occurring steroids. Corticosteroids are released by the adrenal glands, Two walnut-sized organs located on top of the kidneys(Rogak, 1992, p.10). Adrenal steroids in-clude cortisol, corticosterone, and cortisone that help regulate protein and carbohydrate metabolism in the body. Another adre-nal steroid is aldosterone and it is involved in maintaining the mineral and water balance in the bodies of both males and fe-males. Adrenal steroids like cortisone, prednisone, and hydro-cortisone help reduce inflammation. They are also used to treat arthritis, allergies, asthma, certain types of cancer, adrenal deficiencies, and inflammation from injury. In some experimen-tal studies researchers have been able to delay some of the ef-fects of muscular dystrophy found in children using prednisone. Researchers have also found that immediate injections of an anti-inflammatory steroid known as methylprednisolone, after a spinal cord injury can help prevent paralysis (Silverstein, 1992, p.16). Other steroids come from plants a good example is digi-talis that comes from the fox glove plant. It is prescribed for patients with heart failure or irregular heartbeats. Some ster-oids found in plants have been found to be good insect repel-lents. Steroids occurring naturally in the body are essential for maintaining good health and a strong body (Lukas, 1994, p.7). Steroids are used legally and routinely in veterinary medicine. Steroids are given to cattle to increase their muscle and thereby producing extra- lean beef. They are also given to show horses, racehorses, and race dogs to increase their muscle mass and muscle strength (Rogak, 1992, p.11). Sex steroids are also produced by the adrenal glands, but in small quantities. They are present in the bodies of both men and woman. In women the ovaries produce additional steroids: progesterone and estrogens. Progesterone and estrogens are called female sex steroids or hormones. In men the testes pro-duce testosterone. Testosterone is the male sex steroid or hor-mone (Rogak, 1992, p.10). The steroid secretions from the adre-nal glands, ovaries, and the testes are controlled by a part of the brain known as the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus works by regulating the amount of hormones released from the pituitary gland. The sex steroids help to stimulate and maintain the sex organs and the secondary sex characteristics that distinguish male from female (Silverstein, 1992, p.17). The sex steroids are produced in different amounts accord-ing to a person’s primary sexual characteristics. This along with the amount of each sex steroid in a person’s body help de-termine the secondary sexual characteristics: breast develop-ment, high voice, and smooth skin in females and in males large muscles, deep voice, and facial hair in males. Estrogen and progesterone can also be made in a lab and are the key ingredi-ents in birth control pills. Usually when steroids are being spoken about anabolic steroids come to mind (Stevens, 1991, p.7). Anabolic steroids are man-made forms of the male hormone testosterone. These steroids are said to emphasize promote mus-cle growth but, without the masculinizing the user as much as testosterone does (Silverstein, 1992, p.18). Anabolic steroids were first used to help World War II victims put on weight at the end of the war. Anabolic steroids were intended for sick people but, they are often abused by healthy
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