U.K.: Anti-Doping Warns Over Steroid Use in Young Men and Boys

The use of anabolic steroids by boys and young men may become widespread unless society targets the drug abuse, the new head of U.K. Anti-Doping said.

Nicole Sapstead, who became chief executive officer of UKAD in February, said the recent case of a 14-year-old boy in Britain illustrates the danger. The boy used his parents’ credit card to buy 50 tablets for 30 pounds ($44) online, saying he wanted to be bigger and stronger. He also sold some to classmates for 3 pounds each. He was caught after school officials searched him on suspicion of selling candy. He had 12 tablets left.

“This isn’t an isolated incident,” Sapstead said in an interview at the Tackling Doping in Sport conference in London. “There is a possibility it will become endemic with the accessibility of steroids on the Internet.”

 She said the boy’s school disciplined him, and she didn’t know the result. Boys and young men may take steroids for competitive sporting reasons or because they have poor body image, she said.

“They’re looking for a quick win and a quick means to their ultimate aim, which is to be bigger and stronger and more muscular and have a washboard stomach,” she said. “But it’s really dangerous stuff.”

Steroid abuse can damage the heart and is associated with increased aggression, depression and fertility issues. It can also cause acne.

Numbers Rising

Almost 60,000 people between 16 and 59 used anabolic steroids in the 12 months ended April in England and Wales, according to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, or NICE. The number of steroid users, particularly among men aged 18-25, is rising “fueled by the increasing pressures to look good,” the agency said in April.

Since its inception in 2010, UKAD has handed out 47 sanctions relating to steroid use or an anabolic agent of steroid use.

Sapstead called on the U.K. departments of health and education to cooperate on the issue.

“Although the numbers are small, the use of image and performance-enhancing drugs is rising and in some areas, it is one of the main reasons that people access needle and syringe programs,” a spokeswoman at the U.K. Department of Health said.

Sapstead said schools, universities and parents, “are to a degree naive as to what may be going on right under their noses.”

“This is not just a UKAD problem, it is not just a sports problem, but it is a societal issue and it’s a public health problem,” she said. “Let’s not wait until this becomes a crisis.”

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-03-18/u-k-anti-doping-warns-over-steroid-use-in-young-men-and-boys

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