Teens and Steroids: Muscles at a High Price
Teens, Steroids and Muscles
When it comes to muscles, at least on their own bodies, a lot of teenage girls don't have an opinion either way: they are more interested in their dress size than in their bicep size. Even so, recent government reports indicate that at least some middle and high school girls are trying what some body builders have abused to reduce body fat and increase muscle bulk: illegal anabolic steroids.
Dr. John O'Kane, associate professor of orthopaedics and sports medicine and medical coordinator for intercollegiate athletics at the University of Washington, says young women may also take steroids for athletic performance enhancement.
"With the increased availability of athletic scholarship money for young women, it's easy to imagine demands on some of these athletes to be better at younger ages," O'Kane says. "There's now a significant financial reward at the end of the rainbow for top athletes. There is also great pressure on girls to conform to unrealistic body images, and some may think that anabolic steroids can do that for them."
O'Kane indicates that the problem starts with erroneous messages in our culture, on TV and in movies, that show unrealistically thin young women as glamorous and successful.
"It's ironic that a young woman would consider taking steroids to become more attractive, when the side effects include male hair growth patterns on the face and body, a more prominent larynx (Adam's apple), deeper voice, liver tumors, genital changes, tendon damage and high blood pressure. Additionally, steroids can cause personality changes and sometimes psychosis and rage," O'Kane explains. "Some of these side effects are not temporary