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How do anabolic steroids interact with the immune system?

      High doses of anabolic steroids reduce the amounts of immune
 globulin A, G, and M in the blood.(1-4) 
 These proteins, known medically as IgA, IgG, and IgM, are part of
 the body's humoral immune system.  These antibodies that circulate
 in the bloodstream and attack invading bacteria.  Having fewer of
 them may make a person more likely to develop a serious infection. 

      Steroid injection can carry many kinds of bacteria and viruses
 past the protective skin and into the blood, causing infection. 
 The use of syringes without strict sanitary and sterile conditions
 can transmit infectious hepatitis, a life-threatening disease. 
 Needle-sharing can lead to AIDS and other blood-borne
 diseases.(5)  There are two documented cases of AIDS
 transmission traced to needle-sharing in the gym.(6,7) 

      By contrast, anabolic steroids increase the activity of the
 natural killer cells.(3,4)  Another of the body's
 defenses against infection, natural killer cells are specialized
 white blood cells that attack specific viruses and bacteria and
 help to prevent tumor formation.(8)  Increased natural
 killer cell activity could be helpful to the body.(4) 
 However, overactive natural killer cells could also attack the
 body's own tissues, leading to diseases that are known medically as
 "autoimmune diseases."(4)

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REFERENCES 1. Yesalis CE, Wright JE, Bahrke MS. Epidemiological and policy issues in the measurement of the long term health effects of anabolic-androgenic steroids. Sports Medicine 1989 Sep;8(3):129-38. 2. Johnson MD. Steroids. Adolescent Med 1991 Feb;2(1):79-93. 3. Kleiner SM. Performance-enhancing aids in sport - health consequences and nutritional alternatives. J Amer Coll Nutr 1991 Apr;10(2):163-76. 4. Calabrese LH, Kleiner SM, Barna BP, Skibinski CI, Kirkendall DT, Lahita RG, Lombardo JA. The effects of anabolic steroids and strength training on the human immune response. Med Sci Sports Exercise 1989 Aug;21(4):386-92. 5. Amsel Z, Genser SG, Haverkos HW. Anabolic steroid use among male high school seniors. JAMA J Am Med Assoc 1989 May;261(18):2639-40. 6. Wagner JC. Abuse of drugs used to enhance athletic performance. American Journal Of Hospital Pharmacy 1989 Oct;46:2059-67. 7. Scott MJ, Scott MJ. HIV infection associated with injections of anabolic steroids. JAMA J Am Med Assoc 1989 Jul;262(2):207- 8. 8. Wilson CB. The cellular immune system and its role in host defense. In: eds. Principles and practice of infectious diseases. New York: Churchill Livingstone, 1990, 119. 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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