How do anabolic steroids affect the endocrine system?
Anabolic steroids imitate the endocrine hormone testosterone, leading to the many possible side effects described in this database. They cause the pituitary gland to stop secreting FSH and LH, which results in temporary infertility in men and menstrual irregularities in women.(1,2) Steroids cause the thyroid, which regulates the body's metabolic rate, to stop secreting the hormone TSH.(2,3) In spite of this, the thyroid gland itself appears to be unaffected, and thyroid function is normal.(3) In rats prone to diabetes, anabolic steroids speed the development of diabetes.(4) In humans, steroids are associated with increased insulin resistance and changes in glucose tolerance.(2,5) These conditions imitate the symptoms of diabetes, although there has never been a case of diabetes known to have been caused by steroid abuse.(2,4,5)
1. Wagner JC. Abuse of drugs used to enhance athletic
performance. American Journal Of Hospital Pharmacy 1989
2. Johnson MD. Steroids. Adolescent Med 1991 Feb;2(1):79-93.
3. Johnson MD. Anabolic steroid use in adolescent athletes.
Pediatr Clin North Am 1990 Oct;37(5):1111-23.
4. Hickson RC, Ball KL, Falduto MT. Adverse effects of anabolic
steroids. Med Toxicol Adv Drug Experience 1989 Jul-
5. Cohen JC, Hickman R. Insulin resistance and diminished glucose
tolerance in power lifters ingesting anabolic steroids. J Clin
Endocrinol Metab 1987;64(5):960-3.
by Trent Tschirgi, R. Ph.
(c) 1992 University of Maryland Office of Substance Abuse Studies.
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