Steroids and our immunity – possible effects
The topic of reduced immunity when using an anabolic steroid course is of concern to many athletes. Of course, if you use steroids inconsistently, then symptoms of a decrease in immunity should not occur. But in the case when sportsmen use anabolic hormones for a long time, symptoms of a relative decrease in the activity of the immune system may occur. There are many opinions on this subject. In this article, we will consider this question in more detail, and find out how anabolic steroids affect immunity.
What is immunity?
In simple terms, our immunity is our defence against various bacterial, viral and other pathogens. Every day we meet many viruses, bacteria, fungi and protozoa. We can encounter him with them both at home and on the street and in public places. But the average person is ill often – about once every 3-5 months. This protection our immunity provides to us every day. It consists of two parts – humoral and cellular. They act cohesively as a single mechanism.
Parts of the immune system
Humoral immunity is found in all fluids of our body. Most of it is in blood and lymph. Humoral immunity consists of antigens to many viral agents. They protect us from the occurrence of viral diseases.
Cellular immunity mainly consists of T and B lymphocytes, as well as phagocytes and neutrophils. They work mainly against bacterial and fungal pathogens. Also, these cells play the role of antitumor immunity, destroying tumour cells in the body. In the structure of cellular immunity, there are also peculiar killer cells and memory cells.
Killer cells are responsible for the destruction of viruses and bacteria. And memory cells store information about every foreign agent that our immune system has encountered.
Effects of anabolic steroids on the immune system
The anabolic steroids effects on the immune system have been the subject of numerous scientific studies for many years. In the course of many studies, scientists have concluded that most anabolic steroids affect immunity and increase susceptibility to infections and diseases.
High doses of anabolic steroids cause a decrease in blood levels of immune globulins A, G and M. These proteins, known under the medical name IgA, IgG and IgM, are part of the body’s immune system. These antibodies circulate along with the bloodstream and attack the bacteria. The fewer they are, the higher the person’s risk of developing serious infections.
Anabolic steroids in bodybuilding, on the other hand, enhance the activity of natural killer cells. This is another body infection control system, special white blood cells that attack certain viruses and bacteria and help prevent the formation of tumours. Increased activity of killer cells may be beneficial to the body. However, excessively active killer cells can also attack the body’s own tissues, causing so-called “autoimmune” diseases.
Positive effects of steroids
On the other hand, not everything is so simple about steroid action on our immune system. The use of nandrolone decanoate can enhance cellular immunity. In particular, this is due to the increased activity of macrophage cells. Nandrolone decanoate has also proved to be a useful drug for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, the cause of which is most often the infection – it effectively allows you to relieve inflammation, and also prevents the spread of infection.
It is well known that doctors use anabolic drugs in the treatment of immunodeficiency syndrome. They help prevent muscle loss that is inevitable for such patients. Medical specialists use AAS in the postoperative period in the treatment of cancer and cardiovascular diseases as well.
Steroids to increase immune system
So, in AIDS patients, the use of AAS (mainly Oxymetholone and Nandrolone were used) significantly increases the immune response – in this case, we are talking about the humoral mechanism. And Nandrolone decanoate, in addition, increased the resistance to infections of the body, weakened by chemotherapy (used after operations to remove malignant tumours), while not affecting the growth of cancer cells.
If we are talking about humoral immunity, we can make an almost unambiguous conclusion that all androgenic mass anabolics without exception (and some are especially noticeable) contribute to its strengthening.
Other possible causes of a decreased immunity
The state of the immune system is influenced by many factors. Given that our immunity is confronted with many viruses and bacteria every day, it can quickly respond to the slightest changes in our lives. Even seemingly insignificant fluctuations in the schedule can lead to serious changes in the state of immunity.
First of all, dietary disorders can lead to a decrease in immune defence. Low protein content in the diet can lead to a decrease in the synthesis of protective immunoglobulins. Since immunoglobulins and interferons are proteins, a decrease in protein in the diet will lead to a decrease in the synthesis of these molecules. The low content of fat and fibre in the diet negatively affects the intestines and its microbiota. And this, in turn, will also lead to a decrease in immune function.
A sufficient amount of fluid in the diet also plays a big role. A dehydrated body is less effective in managing all of its functions.
Decreased immunity in sportsmen
When considering the issue of immunity, however, it is worth remembering that athletes are in a special way at risk of catching infections. This is because extreme, intense physical activity often leads to a violation of the immune balance. If the training is repeated for a short time, and the athlete does not have time to sufficiently restore the body, the immune system will be seriously weakened.
To increase immunity, it is important to saturate the body with all the necessary substances (vitamins, macro and microelements, saturated fatty acids, adaptogens). For this, it is necessary to use good biologically active complexes, additives.