Anabolic and androgenic steroids are available as prescription medications to be used in cases in which the body does not make enough hormone and supplementation may be required. Some hormone supplements in this pathway include growth hormone and testosterone itself. These medications are legally prescribed by health-care providers, but this group of drugs is often used illegally and abused to help increase athletic performance and improve body appearance. When used in a well-nourished body, anabolic steroids will cause weight gain primarily due to an increase in muscle mass.
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When used in high doses, a small amount of the medication is absorbed into the bloodstream and some side effects beyond the mouth and throat may develop. The most likely to be encountered are easy bruisability of the skin and suppression of the adrenal glands. The significance of adrenal gland suppression is discussed in further detail in the pamphlet entitled Asthma and Steroids in Tablet Form , prepared by the Partners Asthma Center. The risk from the long-term use of inhaled steroids in terms of hastening thinning of the bones (osteoporosis) is currently being studied. However, it is widely agreed that any risk that may be discovered will be far less than that resulting from use of steroids in tablet form in doses needed to achieve the same control of asthma.