Anabolic steroids and growth hormone

Am J Sports Med. May-Jun 1993;21(3):468-74. doi: 10.1177/036354659302100324.


Athletes are generally well educated regarding substances that they may use as ergogenic aids. This includes anabolic steroids and growth hormone. Fortunately, the abuse of growth hormone is limited by its cost and the fact that anabolic steroids are simply more enticing to the athlete. There are, however, significant potential adverse effects regarding its use that can be best understood by studying known growth hormone excess, as demonstrated in the acromegalic syndrome. Many athletes are unfamiliar with this syndrome and education of the potential consequences of growth hormone excess is important in counseling athletes considering its use. While athletes contemplating the use of anabolic steroids may correctly perceive their risks for significant physiologic effects to be small if they use the steroids for brief periods of time, many of these same athletes are unaware of the potential for habituation to the use of anabolic steroids. The result may be incessant use of steroids by an athlete who previously considered only short-term use. As we see athletes taking anabolic steroids for more prolonged periods, we are likely to see more severe medical consequences. Those who eventually do discontinue the steroids are dismayed to find that the improvements made with the steroids generally disappear and they have little to show for hours or even years of intense training beyond the psychological scars inherent with steroid use. Counseling of these athletes should focus on the potential adverse psychological consequences of anabolic steroid use and the significant risk for habituation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anabolic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Cardiovascular System / drug effects
  • Counseling
  • Doping in Sports* / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Female
  • Gonads / drug effects
  • Growth Hormone / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulins / metabolism
  • Liver / drug effects
  • Male
  • Sports*


  • Anabolic Agents
  • Immunoglobulins
  • Growth Hormone