PHARMACOLOGY AND TOXICOLOGY
Mode of action
Toxicodynamics The toxic effects are an exaggeration of the
normal pharmacological effects.
Anabolic steroids bind to specific receptors present especially
in reproductive tissue, muscle and fat (Mooradian & Morley,
1987). The anabolic steroids reduce nitrogen excretion from
tissue breakdown in androgen deficient men. They are also
responsible for normal male sexual differentiation. The ratio of
anabolic ("body-building") effects to androgenic (virilizing)
effects may differ among the members of the class, but in
practice all agents possess both properties to some degree.
There is no clear evidence that anabolic steroids enhance
overall athletic performance (Elashoff et al, 1991).
Anabolic steroids may be carcinogenic. They can stimulate growth
of sex-hormone dependent tissue, primarily the prostate gland in
men. Precocious prostatic cancer has been described after
long-term anabolic steroid abuse (Roberts & Essenhigh, 1986).
Cases where hepatic cancers have been associated with anabolic
steroid abuse have been reported (Overly et al, 1984).
Androgen ingestion by a pregnant mother can cause virilization
of a female fetus (Dewhurst & Gordon, 1984).
Main adverse effects
The adverse effects of anabolic steroids include weight gain,
fluid retention, and abnormal liver function as measured by
biochemical tests. Administration to children can cause
premature closure of the epiphyses. Men can develop impotence
and azoospermia. Women are at risk of virilization.