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LGBT health: Study shows illicit steroid use among gay and bi boys

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Researchers have found that steroid use among gay and bisexual teens boys are at an alarming rate. According to a report by the Associated Press on Feb. 3, the rate is almost six times higher than straight teenage boys.

This “dramatic disparity” in illicit steroid use has the researchers of the study concerned, feeling there is a need to reach out to this group as the study shows that over 21 percent of gay or bisexual boys admitted to steroid use versus just 4 percent among straight boys. The statistics are similar among those who reported moderate use. The heaviest use of the enhancing drug was reported by 4 percent of gays or bi boys, compared with less than 1 percent of straight teens.

There is a social aspect that the authors of the study find may be the reason for this disparity. They site the possibility of gay and bi boys feeling more pressure to bulk-up to meet what they view as the “ideal” male physique. This could be contributed to the stereotypes associated with what gay is and perceptions about masculinity. Bullying may also play apart as body building for strength may help these teens who turn to steroids fend off bullies.

These are plausible reasons, but like any study, this is just a sampling, but enough of one to be concerned says co-author of the study, Aaron Blashill, a psychologist and scientist with the Fenway Institute.

“Given the dramatic disparity…it would seem that this is a population in which greater attention is needed.”

The study is a nationally representation of government surveys from 2005 and 2007 that involved 17,250 teen boys aged 16 on average. Precisely 635 of the 17, 250 identified as gay or bisexual.

Steroids are only legally available by prescription. But can be made available to teens illegally. Users who take the drug take them to promote muscle growth, strength and endurance. Side effects of steroid abuse include heart and liver problems as well as an increase in aggressive behavior.

Hints of steroid use involve speedy muscle growth and mood swings. The report also concludes that kids are less open to admit steroid use than they are about opening up about drinking or smoking marijuana. This also raises more of awareness and opens concerns about the increase of use amongst gay and bisexual boys.

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