Teen Steroid Abuse

Steroids damage the brains and bodies of still developing teens more than adults

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) Steroid abuse is always bad, but for teens the damage can be more serious and last longer. Steroids can change the way an adolescent’s brain develops and vital organs function.

Several studies out of a Dartmouth lab support claims that steroid abuse can cause physiological and behavioral problems. Intervention strategies into steroid abuse need to take teenagers into account.

"Don’t abuse steroids!"

Leslie P. Henderson, PhD, professor of neurobiology and biochemistry at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, has been investigating steroid use in adolescents for years.

For her research, Dr. Henderson was mainly concerned with anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS). These kinds of steroids are synthetic versions of testosterone.

The research has focused mostly on behavioral and physiological side effects of adolescent steroid use, such as reproduction, aggression in males and anxiety in both males and females.

AAS were originally developed to be used, at a low dose, for medical purposes, but have since been primarily abused by athletes, according to a 2003 study by Dr. Henderson.

Dr. Henderson said, “There is this disconnect among young people that somehow your emotions, your thought process—things that have to do with your brain—are separate and different from what steroids may be doing to your body—your muscles, your heart, or your liver or anything like that.”

“Teenagers need to recognize that these drugs actually do things to your brain, and your behavior comes from your brain.”

Dr. Henderson and her research team have performed multiple studies on AAS at Dartmouth.

The research has suggested that steroids are worse for younger, still developing brains and bodies than they are for fully matured adults.

Dr. Henderson said, “[I]f you take steroids as an adolescent, those effects are much longer lasting in terms of their negative effects on behavior, especially aggression, than if you take them as an adult.”

This press release was published on the Dartmouth website in August and Dr. Henderson’s most recent study was published in April in Trends in Neurosciences . No funding information was given and no conflicts of interest were reported.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
August 10, 2012
Last Updated:
November 13, 2012