Anabolic-androgenic Steroid Introduction

Anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS) have been available for medical use for nearly fifty years (Hershberger et al 1953). Bodybuilders and weightlifters have used AAS since the 1950s (Yesalis et al 1989). Today, weight trained athletes often self-administer AAS to improve performance and to remain competitive (Hurley et al 1984). In 1989, it was estimated that there were over 1 million AAS users in the US alone. Di Pasquale, (1992b) feels competitive and recreational athletes often use AAS due partly to a lack of self-esteem; a common problem in society. He feels practices are somewhat similar to other societal "solutions" such as cosmetic surgery. Unfortunately, most AAS users lack the opportunity to make informed judgment regarding the use of these substances (Yesalis et al 1989). AAS are still widely used despite their association to numerous physiological and psychological effects. Many athletes are aware of these potential side effects. As a result, they often implement strategies learned from other users to improve the benefit to risk ratio. Athletes often simultaneously use different AAS commonly referred to as "stacking". Athletes often begin with a low dosage of a particular compound and then increase the dosage along with the number of compounds, until a peak intake is reached. After peaking, dosages and compounds are gradually reduced, or "tapered". A cycle usually lasts 6 to 16 weeks and may be repeated throughout the athlete's career (Balon, Horowitz, & Fitzsimmons, 1992; Kleiner, Bazzare & Litchford, 1990).

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