A steroid is a terpenoid lipid characterized by a carbon skeleton with four fused rings, generally arranged in a 6-6-6-5 fashion. Steroids vary by the functional groups attached to these rings and the oxidation state of the rings. Hundreds of distinct steroids are found in plants, animals, and fungi. All steroids are made in cells either from the sterol lanosterol (animals and fungi) or from the sterol cycloartenol (plants). Both sterols are derived from the cyclization of the triterpene squalene.
Anabolic steroids are a group of powerful compounds closely related to the male sex hormone testosterone. Current legitimate medical uses include treatment of certain kinds of anemia. Body builders, long-distance runners, cyclists and various other athletes who claim that steroids give them a competitive advantage and/or improve their physical appearance use these drugs illegally.
Reports indicate that use of anabolic steroids produces increases in lean muscle mass, strength, and ability to train longer and harder. Many health hazards of short-term effects are reversible. The major effects of anabolic steroid use include liver tumors, jaundice, fluid retention, and high blood pressure. Additional side effects include the following: for men shrinking of the testicles, reduced sperm count, infertility, baldness, development of breasts; for women growth of facial hair, changes in or cessation of the menstrual cycle, deepened voice; for adolescents growth halted prematurely through premature skeletal maturation and accelerated puberty changes. Researchers report that users may suffer from paranoid jealousy, extreme irritability, delusions, and impaired judgment stemming from feelings of invincibility.