Study examines characteristics of female high school students who report steroid use

Steroid use among teen girls is not limited to those involved in competitive athletics and is associated with a cluster of other health-harming behaviors, including smoking and taking diet pills, according to results of a national survey published in the June issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

In 2004, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 7 percent of ninth-grade girls reported ever using anabolic steroids, according to background information in the article. During the 1990s, three national surveys indicated dramatic increases in the prevalence of teen girls using steroids. Previous analyses of female steroid use have focused on older women and found an association with competitive athletics and bodybuilding.

Diane L. Elliot, M.D., of the Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, and colleagues assessed anabolic steroid use among teen girls using a nationally representative sample of U.S. high schools completed in 2003. A total of 7,544 female students in grades nine through 12 completed the survey, which included questions about sports participation as well as steroids, ecstasy use and other illegal or unhealthy behaviors.

A total of 5.3 percent of the participants reported prior or ongoing steroid use. Participating in team sports was negatively related to anabolic steroid use, such that those who were members of sports teams were less likely to self-report prior or ongoing anabolic steroid use, the authors write.

Adolescent girls reporting anabolic steroid use had significantly more other health-harming behaviors, they continue. They were much more likely to use other unhealthy substances, including past 30-day use of cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana and cocaine. Young female steroid users were also more likely to:

  • have had sexual intercourse before age 13
  • have been pregnant
  • drink and drive or have ridden with a

Contact: Tamara Hargens
JAMA and Archives Journals

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