Anabolic-androgenic steroids (AASs) are a large group of molecules including endogenously produced androgens, such as testosterone, as well as synthetically manufactured derivatives. AAS use is widespread due to their ability to improve muscle growth for aesthetic purposes and athletes’ performance, minimizing androgenic effects. AAS use is very popular and 1–3% of US inhabitants have been estimated to be AAS users. However, AASs have side effects, involving all organs, tissues and body functions, especially long-term toxicity involving the cardiovascular system and the reproductive system, thereby, their abuse is considered a public health issue. The aim of the proposed review is to highlight the most recent evidence regarding the mechanisms of action of AASs and their unwanted effects on organs and lifestyle, as well as suggesting that AAS misuse and abuse lead to adverse effects in all body tissues and organs. Oxidative stress, apoptosis, and protein synthesis alteration are common mechanisms involved in AAS-related damage in the whole body. The cardiovascular system and the reproductive system are the most frequently involved apparatuses. Epidemiology as well as the molecular and pathological mechanisms involved in the neuropsychiatric side-effects of AAS abuse are still unclear, further research is needed in this field. In addition, diagnostically reliable tests for AAS abuse should be standardized. In this regard, to prevent the use of AASs, public health measures in all settings are crucial. These measures consist of improved knowledge among healthcare workers, proper doping screening tests, educational interventions, and updated legislation.
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