FRIDAY, Dec. 27, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- Use of performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) is more widespread than previously thought and can have adverse health consequences, according to a scientific statement published online Jan. 1 in Endocrine Reviews.
Noting that most PED users are not athletes, but non-athlete weightlifters, Harrison G. Pope Jr., M.D., from Harvard Medical School in Belmont, Mass., and colleagues reviewed the literature relating to PED use.
The researchers note that use of androgenic-anabolic steroids (AAS) is widespread in Western countries and highest in the United States, with one million men estimated to have experienced AAS dependence at some point. The most commonly used PEDs are AAS, as well as human growth hormone, insulin, and erythropoietins; users often combine multiple drugs. PED users often engage in other high-risk health behaviors as well as concomitant drug use, and may be susceptible to antisocial or violent behaviors. PED use has been associated with an increased risk of death and adverse effects on several organ systems, including cardiovascular effects, hematological effects, psychiatric and neurological effects, and hormonal and metabolic effects. Further research is needed on the long-term adverse consequences of PED use, based on long-term observational studies; prevalence and patterns in use; understanding the mechanistic pathways involved in adverse effects; AAS withdrawal; and innovative approaches to raising public awareness of the serious health consequences associated with PED use.
"The use of performance-enhancing drugs is far more prevalent than is generally believed and deserves substantially greater investigation of its medical consequences, mechanisms, prevention and treatment," Pope said in a statement.
Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. Several authors disclosed testifying in cases related to anabolic-androgenic steroid use.
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