What are the effects of steroid use/abuse on teens?
Anabolics can affect bone growth during puberty: The long bones of the legs and arms are still growing in early adolescence. Plates of cartilage called "epiphyses" are present in the arms and legs at birth. Bone lengthens from them until a certain point in time at the end of puberty. A surge of the body's natural steroid hormones causes the epiphyses to close and become solid bone. After they close, the body's long bones stop growing. Adult height is fixed. Taking one or more anabolic steroids during puberty in athletic doses imitates the hormone surge at the end of puberty.(1,2) The epiphyses may close early, locking the adolescent into a shorter adult height.(2,3) Acne is increased by anabolics.(1,2,4) Acne decreases when steroid use is stopped, but may leave extensive scarring.(5) In one reported case (4), acne was severe enough to send the steroid user to the hospital. Drugs prescribed to treat acne (such as tetracycline and isotretinoin) may become toxic at normal doses if taken by a steroid abuser.(6) When the liver enzymes are occupied by anabolics, they are unable to deactivate these prescription drugs at a normal rate. The prescription drugs accumulate in the body, leading to toxic effects.(6) Male pattern baldness occurs in both male and female steroid abusers.(1,2,6) Some medical authorities feel that hair growth returns when steroids are stopped.(6) Others say that hair loss is irreversible.(2)
1. Yesalis CE, Wright JE, Bahrke MS. Epidemiological and policy
issues in the measurement of the long term health effects of
anabolic-androgenic steroids. Sports Medicine 1989
2. Wilson JD. Androgen abuse by athletes. Endocrine Reviews
3. Kopera H. The history of anabolic steroids and a review of
clinical experience with anabolic steroids. Acta Endocrin
4. Heydenreich G. Testosterone and anabolic steroids and acne
fulminans. Arch Dermatol 1989 Apr;125:571-2.
5. Merkle T, Landthaler M, Braunfalco O. Acne conglobata-like
exacerbation of acne vulgaris after ingestion of anabolic
steroids and vitamin-b complex (in german). Hautarzt 1990
6. Johnson MD. Steroids. Adolescent Med 1991 Feb;2(1):79-93.
by Trent Tschirgi, R. Ph.
(c) 1992 University of Maryland Office of Substance Abuse Studies.
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