Many men continue to abuse steroids to achieve muscular bodies despite knowing that the drug have potentially lethal side effects, a study has found.
Anabolic steroids such as testosterone are performance-enhancing hormones that increase muscle mass and boost athletic ability, which has led to their misuse and abuse by some, and men in particular.
However, the use of steroids has some life-limiting and serious side effects including reduced sperm count, erectile dysfunction, baldness, breast development and an increased risk of heart disease, stroke and liver or kidney failure.
Researchers from Pavlov First Saint Petersburg State Medical University in Russia found that men using anabolic steroids to improve strength and physical performance are often aware of the side effects but choose to continue taking them.
The team conducted an anonymous survey of men, who regularly attend the gym, to assess their knowledge of, use of and attitude towards the health risks of anabolic steroids.
Of 550 respondents 30.4 per cent said they used steroids, 74.3 per cent of users were aged 22-35 years old and 70.2 per cent of users said they were aware of the side effects.
In addition, 54.8 per cent of all respondents indicated that they would like to receive more expert information on steroids and their side effects.
“These findings were surprising, not only was the prevalence of steroid abuse high, knowledge of the damaging side effects was also high, yet this does not stop them from taking them,” said Mykola Lykhonosov from Pavlov First Saint Petersburg State Medical University.
The researchers plan to investigate how to treat hormonal imbalances and disorders caused by steroid abuse.
Greater public awareness of steroid abuse and its health risks may help discourage users, they said.
“We need to tackle this growing public health problem, increasing awareness through the promotion of stories from former users, on how steroid abuse has negatively impacted on their health and lives, could be a good strong message to discourage abuse,” Lykhonosov said.