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How do anabolic steroids work?

      A normal male produces 20 times more testosterone than a
 normal female.(1)  This extra testosterone is responsible
 for greater muscle development in men than women, and the
 development of other sex characteristics such as facial hair growth
 and a deep voice.(2)  Testosterone does these things when it
 is absorbed from the bloodstream by certain types of
 cells.(3)  Molecules of testosterone fit themselves into
 places inside the cells called "receptor sites," just as a key fits
 into the lock designed for it.  When the receptor site is filled by
 the right type of molecule, it activates the cell to do specific
 functions.(1)  For example, in muscle cells,  testosterone
 promotes the production of protein.(3)  There are only a
 certain number of these "receptor sites" in each cell.  If only a
 few of them get filled by the right type of molecule, the cell will
 respond at a low level.  If all of them are filled, the cell gives
 its maximum response.  

      A normal male secretes enough testosterone into his blood to
 fill most of his testosterone receptor sites.  However, if he takes
 the huge doses of anabolic steroids that weightlifters take, the
 cells will not be able to do any more than they would with a low
 dose of steroids because the receptor sites are already filled
 up.(3,4)  The extra testosterone only makes side effects
 more likely.

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REFERENCES 1. Goldfien A. The gonadal hormones & inhibitors. In: ed. Basic and clinical pharmacology. Norwalk, CT: Appleton & Lange, 1987, 461-83. 2. Johnson MD. Steroids. Adolescent Med 1991 Feb;2(1):79-93. 3. Strauss RH. Anabolic steroids. In: ed. Drugs and performance in sports. Philadelphia: WB Saunders, 1987:5, 59-67. 4. Wilson JD. Androgen abuse by athletes. Endocrine Reviews 1988;9(2):181-99. by Trent Tschirgi, R. Ph. (c) 1992 University of Maryland Office of Substance Abuse Studies. All Rights Reserved.
Disclaimer: Steroid use is illegal in a vast number of countries around the world. This is not without reason. Steroids should only be used when prescribed by your doctor and under close supervision. Steroid use is not to be taken lightly and we do not in any way endorse or approve of illegal drug use. The information is provided on the same basis as all the other information on this site, as informational/entertainment value.

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