[Paleopsych] CNN: Girls are abusing steroids, too

Premise Checker checker at panix.com
Wed Apr 27 19:27:26 UTC 2005

Girls are abusing steroids, too

An alarming number of American girls, some as young as 9, are using
bodybuilding steroids -- not necessarily to get an edge on the playing
field, but to get the toned, sculpted look of models and movie stars,
experts say.

Girls are getting their hands on the same dangerous testosterone pills,
shots and creams that have created a scandal in Major League Baseball
and other sports. Often, these are the same girls who have eating
disorders, according to some research.

"There's been a substantial increase for girls during the 1990s, and
it's at an all-time high right now," said Charles Yesalis, a professor
of health and human development at Pennsylvania State University.

Lloyd Johnston, a University of Michigan professor who heads an annual
government-sponsored survey on risky behavior by young people, said:
"Other than pedophilia, this is the most secret behavior I've ever

Overall, up to about 5 percent of high school girls and 7 percent of
middle-school girls admit trying anabolic steroids at least once, with
use of rising steadily since 1991, various government and university
studies have shown.

Researchers say that most girls are using steroids to get bigger and
stronger on the playing field, and they attribute some of the increase
in steroid use to girls' rising participation in sports. But plenty of
other girls are using steroids to give themselves a slightly muscular
look, they say.

"With young women, you see them using it more as a weight control and
body fat reduction" method, said Jeff Hoerger, who runs the staff
counseling program at Rutgers University in New Jersey.

In the past couple of years, he has helped two young women using
steroids -- one an 11th-grader with "an average figure" whose swimmer
friend suggested steroids would help with weight loss. "She was just
looking for quick results," Hoerger said.

The sports medicine division at the Oregon Health and Science University
found that two-thirds of Oregon high school girls who admitted using
steroids were not athletes and that girls who were considering taking
steroids had tried other, risky ways to get thin.

"They were more likely to have eating disorders and to abuse diuretics,
amphetamines and laxatives," said Dr. Linn Goldberg, head of the division.

In teenage girls, the side effects from taking male sex hormones can
include severe acne, smaller breasts, deeper voice, irregular periods,
excess facial and body hair, depression, paranoia and the fits of anger
dubbed "roid rage." Steroids also carry higher risks of heart attack,
stroke and some forms of cancer.

Researchers say youngsters generally get illegal anabolic steroids on
the black market from relatives or friends, from the local gym and over
the Internet. At least one study indicates some parents and coaches
supply steroids to teen athletes.

Dr. Eric Small, chairman of the American Academy of Pediatrics'
committee on sports medicine, said adults should gently ask youngsters
about possible steroid use.

"Talking about supplements and steroids needs to start in the third
grade," Small said. "If you wait till ninth grade, it's too late."

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