Prevalence of Anabolic Steroid

Use of anabolic steroids by athletes is illegal and often has negative ramifications on athletic eligibility (see discussion below in section on Anabolic Steroids—A Banned Substance). As a consequence, the number of athletes using these agents is difficult to determine (i.e., most individuals are unwilling to admit use). Mistakenly, body builders are often cited for prevalent use of anabolic steroids. In self-report studies, estimate use rates range from 5 to 30% of the professional and amateur athletic populations (120,127,128). This even includes high school athletes and recreational athletes. For example, Buckley and associates (128) studied a North American sample of 3400 high school seniors, and found that more than 6% periodically used anabolic steroids. In that study, the majority of the users were sports athletes. Interestingly, 35% were nonathletes, who cited improved appearance as their main reason for taking the drugs. Regrettably, 20% of anabolic steroid users in that study had obtained their drugs from a health care professional. Research by Yesalis et al. in the 1990s put the total number of users in the United States at more than 1 million (129). There is no evidence that the number has declined, despite the warnings issued by health care providers of the dangers of usage (120,127-130).

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