Anabolic-androgenic steroids. Current issues

Sports Med. 1995 May;19(5):326-40. doi: 10.2165/00007256-199519050-00003.


The use of drugs to enhance physical performance has been observed for thousands of years. Today, individuals continue to use a variety of substances, including anabolic-androgenic steroids, in the hope of enhancing their performance and appearance. Rumours persist regarding the incidence of the nonmedical use of anabolic steroids by athletes and nonathletes: however, true estimates are now available based on the results of systematic surveys. Although the vast majority of the athletic community accepts that anabolic steroids enhance performance and appearance, the extent to which this occurs and the factors influencing such effects remain incompletely understood and documented. Refinement of our knowledge of the ergogenic effects of anabolic steroids is not without merit; however, the existing scientific evidence coupled with an overwhelming number of anecdotal accounts argues against devoting significant resources to this area of investigation at present. The short term health effects of anabolic steroids have been increasingly studied and reviewed, and while anabolic steroid use has been associated with several adverse and even fatal effects, the incidence of serious effects thus far reported has been extremely low. The long term effects of anabolic steroid use are generally unknown. Unfortunately, the lack of scientific information on long term health effects has impeded, if not precluded, the formation of effective health education and drug abuse prevention strategies. Consequently, efforts should be expanded in the areas of prevention and education.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anabolic Agents* / administration & dosage
  • Anabolic Agents* / adverse effects
  • Anabolic Agents* / pharmacology
  • Child
  • Female
  • Health Education
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / drug effects
  • Physical Endurance / drug effects
  • Psychomotor Performance / drug effects
  • Sports / physiology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / prevention & control


  • Anabolic Agents