Anabolic steroids and male pattern baldness seem to go hand in hand. There is a lot of information on the internet, but in this article, you will receive facts backed by science, not bro-science. Looking at the Mr. Olympia lineup, there is one common theme, baldness. Does this mean that anabolic steroids cause hair loss? Keep reading.
What Are Anabolic Steroids?
Anabolic steroids are synthetic versions of the hormone testosterone. Some androgenic anabolic steroids (AAS) are derivatives of other hormones like dihydrotestosterone (DHT). AAS was first synthesized in the 1930s to induce puberty, stimulate muscle growth, and increase appetite for individuals who suffered from conditions that caused muscular atrophy.
AAS gained mainstream attention in the 1970s and 80s through bodybuilding and sports. In 1990, AAS became a schedule III controlled substance, which meant that they were illegal to use recreationally. AAS are known as performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs). AAS increase protein synthesis; they increase speed, strength, and muscularity. Also, AAS have secondary sexual characteristics, such as increased body hair and facial hair, and a deepening of the voice.
What Causes Hair Loss
There are several forms of hair loss, but the most common type related to the use of AAS is called androgenic alopecia (genetic hair loss). Hair follicles, as well as sebaceous glands, contain the 5-alpha reductase enzyme. The 5-alpha reductase enzyme is responsible for converting testosterone into DHT through the bloodstream.
DHT is the hormone responsible for causing male and female pattern baldness. DHT binds to vulnerable hair follicles, and gradually shrinks these hair follicles until they no longer grow- this process is called miniaturization or thinning. However, DHT only affects hair follicles that are genetically predisposed to hair loss.
Do Steroids Cause Hair Loss?
No steroids do not cause hair loss. Genetic hair loss is a hereditary condition, which means it is in your DNA. That said, anabolic steroids can accelerate hair loss in those with a genetic predisposition, especially steroids that are derivatives of DHT. Anabolic steroids that are DHT derivatives come in oral form for the most part. These steroids do not aromatize to estrogen, which means they do not convert into estrogen.
Anyone with a family history of hereditary hair loss, should not use anabolic steroids unless they do not care about their hair. Androgenic alopecia can be very slow, and the hair loss may not be noticeable until the later years of life. However, anabolic steroids can accelerate the condition, and the onset of hair loss can appear as early as the teenage years if abused.
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