Anabolic Androgenic Steroid Abuse and their Health Impacts: A Cross‑sectional Study among Body Builders in a City of Eastern India

Subraham Pany, Sandeep Kumar Panigrahi, E Venkata Rao, Lipilekha Patnaik, Trilochan Sahu


Background: Anabolic‑androgenic steroids (AASs), when taken in supraphysiologic doses,
increase muscle strength and athletic performance. Evidence suggests that long‑term use of AAS in
supraphysiologic doses have adverse effects on health. Therefore, the study was conducted to find
crude estimate of the prevalence of AAS use among attendees of the gymnasium, the factors that
could have influenced them for AAS abuse and to assess the short‑ and long‑term side effects as
perceived by them.

Methods: A cross‑sectional study was conducted in selected gymnasiums of a
smart city of India using a predesigned and pretested questionnaire. Snowball sampling method was
undertaken. The study was from July 2015 to June 2016. Informed written consent was taken. The
analysis was done using SPSS v. 20.0.

Results: Of 84 bodybuilders approached, 74 participants used
AAS. All users were male with mean age of 26.5 + 0.55 years. The mean age of initiation of AAS
abuse was 23 years, and 66.2% (49) were unmarried. Eighty‑five percent (63) preferred injectable.
Seventy percent (52) abusers were influenced by trainers for abuse. Most commonly abused was
Nandrolone decanoate (55.4%). Seventy‑three percent were not aware of any legal ban on steroids.
Reported benefits include increased strength, muscle size, and power, while harms were increased
acne, deepening of voice, swelling of feet, increased irritability, depressive thoughts, impaired
judgment, panic disorder, and withdrawal effect.

Conclusions: Frequency of ASS use was substantial
among young bodybuilders. Awareness about side effects was not a deterrent factor. Abusers were
highly influenced by coaches. Efforts should be made for preventing easy access to AAS.

Keywords: Fitness centers, steroids, substance‑related disorders

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