The use of anabolic steroids amongst gay male teenagers is six times higher than with their straight counterparts, according to a recent study published by the American Pediatrics Journal.
The bodybuilding drugs, sold in both injectable oil and pill form, and often purchased on the internet as well as being dealt in gym locker rooms, are being used by young gay men in an attempt to ‘bulk-up’ at a more rapid rate than would be allowed by resistance training alone.
The study reported that while 4 per cent of heterosexual male teens had admitted to using the muscle-building drugs, the number of young gay men was a much higher 21 per cent, with 4 per cent admitting to using them above 40 times.
Study authors have suggested that whist there is no clear reason for the extreme difference in numbers, gay teens may have been more likely to suffer from bullying in school, leading to insecurities and dwindling confidence, which they may be attempting to combat with strong, intimidating bodies.
Continued steroid use at any age could lead to serious health issues such as heart disease, elevated cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, liver and kidney complications, as well as less serious side effects such as acne and male pattern baldness and a potential increase in aggressive behavior in some individuals.
However, unlike pro-athletes who would use steroids under the supervision of doctors, teenagers are more susceptible to physiological and psychological effects often experienced when on a ‘cycle’ of the drugs, which usually consists of taking the injections, pills or a combination of both, for a duration of four to 12 weeks. “The reason for this is due to the natural hormonal imbalance already present in the bodies of teenagers,” baseball historian William Kashatus told the International Business Times.
A 26-year-old Dublin-based personal trainer, working at one of the city’s most popular commercial gyms said, “The fact of the matter is, there is only so much weight you can gain in the form of muscle in a specified period of time. Even with the best genetics, a flawless diet and a focused weight-training program, there are limits, so when you take into account that most people fall short on at least one of these, it’s often a case of these young guys putting vanity ahead of their long-term health and taking the plunge”.
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