Wake up call for ‘steroid users’

Anabolic steroids have received more bad press after allegedly claiming the life of a 17-year-old boy this week. Matthew Dear, of Southend, Essex was reportedly taking steroids in preparation for the selection test for the Royal Marines, which he was planning to take in three months time after his 18th birthday.


The danger is real. As young people become more body conscious and increasingly use gyms, steroid are used to boost strength and confidence. | Photo: James Campbell

Lincolnshire GP Dr Derek Dewar has issued a warning stating that the drug is unsafe. He said: “Although the body creates the substance naturally the strain that has been used in the drug has not been properly refined.”

Developed in the late 1930s primarily to treat delayed puberty, impotence and muscle wasting diseases, the drug was soon used in sport to enhance performance. Anabolic steroids are notorious amongst weight trainers as they help muscle tissue repair causing them to gain size very quickly.

As a result there can be many side-effects from use of the substance, which is illegal when not prescribed by a doctor. For men these can include shrinking of the testicles, reduced sperm count, infertility, baldness, development of breasts, anger problems and an increased risk of prostate cancer.

The drug can also causes problems for women, such as growth of facial hair, male-pattern baldness, changes in the menstrual cycle, enlargement of the clitoris and deepening of the voice.

As the drug is so effective and the seriousness of the side effects is not often understood, this can lead to people overlooking them. Dr Dewar admits that he rarely deals with steroid related problems but has seen what psychiatric effects the drug can have.

“I have dealt with one patient who suffered from ‘roid rage’ and the drug has had a long term effect on the stability of his mental health,” said Dr Dewar.

Peter Rogerson, who has been bodybuilding for 20 years and owns a supplement business in Lincoln, feels steroids are unnecessary with the improvements madeĀ using legal supplements.

Rogerson said: “Ten years ago I could see why people resorted to steroids but now there are alternatives. Protein is the building block of supplements that helps muscle repair and then there is creatine which increases energy levels and speeds up recovery rates.”

He went on to say: “Now supplements are getting more effective people assume there must be some negative side to them in the same way as steroids but this is not the case”. Dr Dewar also approves of the use of legal supplements which cause no danger to health.

The idea behind the legal supplements is to provide a cheap and practical addition to your diet. One ounce of chicken breast contains roughly seven grams of protein and a protein shake can contain around 40 grams.

One Response to Wake up call for ‘steroid users’

  1. Dr Rob Dawson says:

    Anabolic steroids are not of “a strain” – this term is more linked with viral pathology than chemical products.

    The increased risk of prostate cancer with anabolic steroids is now felt to be very unlikely.

    They are not “so effective” many people using them will find only modest gains and are more likely to note the potential resulting acne and oily skin than bigger muscles.

    They may confer about 10% benefit in conjunction with an estimated 16% that can come from training. For the vast majority of users anabolic steroids will be of little moment – let’s not overstate the case and potentially popularise the use of these drugs.

    They are not illegal to posess, when in the form of a medicine, they do not have to have been prescribed by a doctor to be found in this form. Though illicitly supplied drugs may well not contain the products indicated and may have been produced in a non sterile manner.

    Patients using these drugs, while misguided and should stop, should not fear seeking help due to the potential for criminalision as this is not the case.

    Posession of anabolic steroids with intent to supply and supply is, rightly, against the law.

    There is no place, outwith legitimate medical use, for these drugs but we must be careful how we approach this problem and encourage patients using these drugs to seek medical advice for harm minimisation and ideally an opportunity to stop.