Researchers looked at a data set documenting the AAS use of 17,250 U.S. boys between the ages of 14 and 18, a Fenway Institute news release reported.
The team found 21 percent of gay and bisexual boys in the study had used the steroids at least once in their life, compared to only four percent of heterosexual boys in the same age range.
Four percent of gay and bisexual males were heavy AAS users while only 0.7% of heterosexual boys used the substance at the same level.
AAS’s are used to increase "strength, performance, and muscularity," the news release reported.
"This is the first known study that examined the prevalence of AAS use among gay and bisexual boys. We hypothesized that a disparity would exist; however, we were rather shocked at the magnitude, with gay and bisexual boys being over [five] times more likely to use AAS compared to heterosexual boys," Aaron Blashill, PhD of The Fenway Institute said in the news release.
LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) individuals tend to experience more bullying which affects "depression, victimization, substance use, and poor body image"; this could increase their likelihood to use AAS.
"Long-term steroid use can affect some of the same brain pathways and chemicals-including dopamine, serotonin, and opioid systems-that are affected by other drugs, and thereby may have a significant impact on mood and behavior," the National Institute on Drug Abuse said.
Other side effects of the drug are "shrinkage of the testicles (testicular atrophy), reduced sperm count or infertility, baldness, development of breasts (gynecomastia), increased risk for prostate cancer," the National Institute on Drug Abuse said. The steroids can also cause addiction and drug dependence.
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