Endocrine Abstracts (2006) 11 S62

Overview of anabolic steroids in sport

KI Kuoppasalmi


National Public Health Institute, Helsinki, Finland.


Anabolic-androgenic steroids are synthetic derivatives of testosterone. They are abused by athletes in sport. The goal of individuals who use anabolic steroids in sport is dependent on the activity in which they participate. It has been difficult to show scientifically that the use of anabolic steroids increases physical performance. There has been much less discussion on the psychological and central nervous system (CNS) effects of anabolic steroids and on the significance of the CNS effects on performance. Anabolic steroids may have direct neuroactive effects or they may modify the effects of neuroactive steroids on the CNS. The effects of supraphysiological doses or prolonged use on physical and psychological capacities have not been evaluated. On the other hand, the use of supraphysiological doses for long duration may cause significant adeverse health effects. The adverse effects of anabolic steroids on the liver, lipoprotein fraction, serum triglyserides, clotting factors, myocardium, immune function and reproductive system are quite well known. In addition, anabolic steroids have effects on behaviour and on neural circuits for these behaviours. It has been shown that anabolic steroids can alter aggression, sexual behaviour, anxiety, reward, learning and locomotion in animals. Some of the human studies have also found an association between the use of anabolic steroids and irritability, aggression, sexual behaviour, personality disturbance and mental disorders. Acute anabolic steroid withdrawal symptoms may include cravings and depression. It is probable that dependence syndrome according to DSM-IV or iCD-10 can develop also for anabolic steroids.

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