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Steroid, hormone produced in the body from cholesterol, mainly by the adrenal glands. Cortisol is the main glucocorticoid (steroids that regulate glucose metabolism) and aldosterone, the main mineralocorticoid (regulating salt, potassium, and water balance). Increased amounts of cortisol are secreted during times of stress, such as shock, surgery, and severe infection. Sterols, mainly of the glucocorticoid type, are also given in doses above normal hormone levels to obtain other effects, e.g., the suppression of inflammation, allergy, and immunity. High-dose systemic steroids may have adverse effects if used for long periods; they may cause acne, osteoporosis, hypertension, fluid retention, altered facial appearance, and growth retardation in children.

See also: Hormone.

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21st Century Webster's Family Encyclopedia21st Century Webster's Family Encyclopedia - Sterility to Swedish