steroids, class of lipids having a particular molecular ring structure called the cyclopentanoperhydro-phenanthrene ring system. Steroids differ from one another in the structure of various side chains and additional rings. Steroids are common in both plants and animals. In humans, steroids are secreted by the ovaries and testes, the adrenal cortex (see adrenal gland), and the placenta.

The range of steroids is diverse, including several forms of vitamin D, digitalis, sterols (e.g., cholesterol), and the bile acids. Many steroids are biologically active hormones that control a number of the body's metabolic processes. This group includes the male sex hormone testosterone and the female sex hormones estrogen and progesterone. The steroid hormones of the adrenal cortex include glucocorticoids such as cortisone and cortisol (see also corticosteroid drug) and mineralocorticoids such as aldosterone.

Natural or synthetic steroids are used in oral contraceptives and in the treatment of arthritis, Addison's disease, and certain skin ailments. Side effects, related to dosage and length of treatment, can be serious and include high blood pressure, edema, unwanted hair growth, and menstrual cycle disruption. Anabolic steroids, male hormones given to build up strength in seriously ill patients, have been abused by bodybuilders and athletes in an attempt to increase muscle mass and strength.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Drug and Alcohol Abuse: The Authoritative Guide for Parents, Teachers, and Counselors
H. Thomas Milhorn Jr.
Perseus Publishing, 1994
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 29 "Anabolic Steroids"
Psychological Characteristics of Adolescent Steroid Users
Burnett, Kent F.; Kleiman, Mark E.
Adolescence, Vol. 29, No. 113, Spring 1994
Drug Testing: Issues and Options
Robert H. Coombs; Louis Jolyon West.
Oxford University Press, 1991
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 6 "Drug Testing in Athletics"
Controversies of the Sports World
Douglas T. Putnam.
Greenwood Press, 1999
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 9 "Pumping Up"
Best Magazine Articles, 1988
Thomas Fensch.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1989
Librarian’s tip: "Confessions of a Steroid Smuggler" begins on p. 1
Fair Play: Sports, Values, and Society
Robert L. Simon.
Westview Press, 1991
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 4 "Enhancing Performance Through Drugs"
Tough Choices: A Book about Substance Abuse
John Langone.
Little, Brown and Company, 1995
Librarian’s tip: "Steroids" begins on p. 70
Nonassociative Processes and Place Preferences Conditioned by Testosterone
Caldarone, Barbara J.; Stock, Howard S.; Abrahamsen, Glenn C.; Boechler, Michael L.; Svare, Bruce B.; Rosellini, Robert A.
The Psychological Record, Vol. 46, No. 2, Spring 1996
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Sexual Health for Men: The Complete Guide
Richard F. Spark.
Perseus Publishing, 2000
Librarian’s tip: "How do Athletes and Bodybuilders use Testosterone and other Anabolic Androgenic Steroids (AAS)?" begins on p. 170
Drugs in Sport
David R. Mottram.
Routledge, 2003 (3rd edition)
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 5 "Androgenic Anabolic Steroids" begins on p. 138
The Angry Gut: Coping with Colitis and Crohn's Disease
W. Grant Thompson.
Perseus Books, 1993
Librarian’s tip: Chap. Twenty-One "Steroids"
Working with Substance Misusers: A Guide to Theory and Practice
Trudi Petersen; Andrew McBride.
Routledge, 2002
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 28 "Anabolic Androgenic Steroid Misusers"
Looking for a topic idea? Use Questia's Topic Generator