Steroid Use Six Times Higher Among Gay and Bisexual Teens:Study

First Posted: Feb 04, 2014 09:08 AM EST

Gay and bisexual teenagers use steroids six times more than straight kids, says a recent study.

The survey was  done by psychologists at The Fenway Institute, an advocacy group for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, LGBT, community.

Steroids are used to increase muscularity and macho appearance. Gay or bisexual teens undergo lot of pressure to look masculine and ideal. They use steroids to promote muscle growth, strength and endurance.  But, some also bulk up to fend off bullies. The research identified a dramatic disparity and stress attention on such groups.

Researchers analyzed 17,250 boys ages 14 to18 from the 2005 and 2007 Youth Risk Behavior Surveys to find out if there was higher use anabolic steroids among gay and bisexual boys compared to heterosexual boys. 

Nearly, 21 percent of gay or bisexual teenage boys reported steroid usage, while only 4 percent of straight boys were involved in this form of substance abuse. The difference was similar among those who reported moderate and heavy use of steroids- 4 percent of gay and bisexual boys take steroids 40 or more times compared to less than 1 percent of straight boys.

"It's a bit sad that we saw such a large health disparity. Given the dramatic disparity ... it would seem that this is a population in which greater attention is needed." said co-author of the study, Aaron Blashill, psychologist, Fenway institute.

Dr Rob Garofalo, adolescent medicine chief at Lurie Children's Hospital, Chicago said to Businessweek that the differences are not surprising as the gay youth have body image issues and pressure to look good. "It is shocking. These are dramatically high rates" said Dr Garofalo.

The Food and Drug Administration has issued a warning about teen's fascination for steroids. According to its findings, nearly 5 percent of teenage boys and 2 percent of high school girls use steroids. Steroids also include synthetic versions of male hormone testosterone. The side effects include heart and liver disorders, acne, high blood pressure and aggression.

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