Academic journal article Iranian Journal of Public Health

The Misuse of Anabolic-Androgenic Steroids among Iranian Re-Creational Male Body-Builders and Their Related Psycho-Socio-Demographic Factors

Academic journal article Iranian Journal of Public Health

The Misuse of Anabolic-Androgenic Steroids among Iranian Re-Creational Male Body-Builders and Their Related Psycho-Socio-Demographic Factors

Article excerpt


Some athletes may abuse drugs and ergogenic substances to enhance their performances by increasing strength (1, 2). Anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS) include a variety of drugs with male hormone of testosterone and its synthetic derivatives among them (3). When these drugs are taken in supraphysiologic doses, they seem to increase the athlete's muscularity, often beyond expected limits (4).

Elite athletes started to abuse AAS since the 1950s (5)and currently, millions of people worldwide use AAS (6-11). Surprisingly, majority of such people are not among elites or competitive athletes, rather ordinary people who use these drugs merely to lose body fat or to gain more muscle mass (12-13). Additionally, many of AAS users also abuse other prohibited substances and drugs to look more muscular or to have a better performance (14-17).

Concerns over serious side-effects of AAS abuse such as cardiac, hepatic, neuroendocrine and psychiatric effects has increased over the last decades (18-22) and now theses drugs are considered as a big threat for public health. Therefore, many of researchers have focused on the predisposing risk factors for AAS abuse in order to develop an effective preventive strategy against their abuse (3,6,7,12,13,20). Originally, psycho-socio-demographic factors seem to be related to AAS substance abuse; However very few authors have evaluated the effect of predisposing factors on AAS abuse among body-builders (17, 23). Some proposed psycho-socio-demographic factors such as age, job, level of education, income, purpose of participating in sporting activity, mental health and body image seem to be associated with AAS abuse (3, 9, 12, 16, 17, 23) though not totally consistent in the relevant literature.

In this study, we aimed to investigate the AAS abuse and its association with some psycho-socio-demographic factors among male body-builders in Tehran, Iran.

Materials and Methods

Design and setting

This study is one of few surveys in the field of substance abuse in Iran's gyms which evaluated substance abuse in 906 randomly selected male body-builders from103 randomly selected body-building clubs in Tehran, Iran.

Samples and sampling

Between March and October 2011, 103 body-building clubs were selected based on simple random sampling method using computer-generated random numbers. Four trained research assistants went to the selected clubs in both morning and evening sessions and randomly interviewed with the predetermined number of athletes in each club (according to the club's area and number of its registered athletes). The interviews made after the completion of the exercise program and participants were invited to a silent place, usually in the gyms' buffets or trainer's room.

From these clubs, 930 body-builders who were present at the club at the time of study participated. Inclusion criteria were male gender and age of 13 to 60 years. Exclusion criteria were the subjects' request for leaving the study and lack of clear response to the questions.

Codes of ethics

Verbal consent was obtained from the athletes and they were reassured that the data would be kept strictly confidential. All participants were given information about the purpose of the study. Participants' names were not recorded to assure confidentiality. This study was conducted based on 'Ethical Principles for Medical Research involving Human Subjects' of the Helsinki Declaration and has been approved by Ethics Committee of Research Center for Substance Abuse and Dependenceof Iran.


Data on participants' psycho-social and demographic characteristics, sporting activity patterns as well as the history of AAS abuse were collected via a 45 min interview with each participant, using structured questionnaires.

Independent variables

Independent variables included the followings: age, average monthly family income, family size, sport experience (months), weekly duration of the sporting activity (hours), monthly cost of the sporting activity, purpose of participating in the sporting activity, and history of anabolic steroid as well as other substances use. …

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