Increased educational resources are available to at least certain age groups and are now reaching larger numbers of children. The percentage of pre-adolescent athletes who have heard of steroids has increased significantly from 78% in 1989 to 88% in the current survey (p<.05). In 1989, only 50% of respondents had had steroid side effects explained to them. This significantly increased to 64% in the current study (p<.05). Currently, 60% of respondents felt that steroids, even if used carefully, would still harm the athlete compared to 56% in 1989 (p<.05). Furthermore, 65% currently consider steroid use a drug problem compared to 57% in 1989 (p<.05).
Side-effects from the use of steroids are extremely common and can be quite significant. Most side-effects are reversible once the athlete stops usage although serious long-term side-effects and even death have occurred as a direct result of steroid use.
• Decreased sperm production and sex drive
• Increased aggression, irritability and mood swings
• Liver disorders
• Baldness (alopecia)
• Hypertension (high blood pressure)
• Raised cholesterol
• Gynecomastia (development of over-sized mammary glands in males)
• Menstrual irregularities (in women)
• Hirsuitism (excessive hair growth occurring in females which follows the pattern of male hair growth, . facial)
• Deepening of the voice
• Reduced immunity
• Possible development of tumors (wilm’s tumor, prostate carcinoma and leukemia have been reported, although a connection is not proven)
Steroids can worsen existing skin pathologies. Athletes being treated for acne often stop responding to normal treatment regimens if they also continue to use the drugs. Some cases of comparatively benign acne can progress to the disfiguring inflammatory types. Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease in which, for unknown reasons, immune cells attack skin cells, resulting in red, scaly patches. One bodybuilder had controlled his psoriasis condition through the use of a topical cream, but when he began using steroids, his condition considerably deteriorated. Eventually his psoriasis became resistant to treatment. But when he stopped using steroids, the psoriasis stabilized and again responded to simple skin-cream treatment. 6