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New campaign raises awareness of dangers of anabolic steroid misuse
The misuse of anabolic steroids can significantly damage your health and increase the risk of a number of serious health problems including heart failure and stroke, a new public information campaign has warned.
According to the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA), which recently launched the campaign to raise awareness of the potentially serious health risks of unprescribed anabolic steroids, “people should not use anabolic steroids unless prescribed for them by a doctor as misuse of these products can cause serious physical and psychological health issues.”
The potential physical effects include heart failure, liver issues, kidney damage, and infertility as well as acne and hair loss. The psychological and emotional impacts include mood swings and aggression or ‘roid rage’ leading to possible depression.
The campaign entitled ‘Zero Gains’ is targeting young Irish men and was developed in light of growing evidence of an increased use of anabolic steroids for body enhancement and new research showing a significant lack of awareness of the serious health complications posed by these products.
The potential physical effects include heart failure, liver issues, kidney damage, and infertility as well as acne and hair loss.
According to the new research from the HPRA, a significant proportion of Irish people are unaware of the many serious side effects caused by anabolic steroid use. It revealed that almost half of Irish adults (48%) are unaware/not sure about the side effects of steroid use meaning that lack of awareness of specific health risks is significant.
While almost 1 out of every 5 (19%) were aware (unprompted) that using anabolic steroids could cause heart problems, awareness levels of other known health risks were significantly lower. Only 8 per cent of respondents referred to mood swings, 7 per cent to aggression and just 4 per cent to liver damage.
The research also revealed that approximately 1 in 5 (19%) of 25 to 34 year olds said they would not be concerned if their partner, a family member or a friend were using anabolic steroids and 1 in 10 adults would consider taking anabolic steroids to enhance physical performance or gain a more muscular physique, rising to more than 1 in 5 of those aged 18-34 (22%).
A new website www.zerogains.ie has been launched to provide reliable and trustworthy information on the real risks of anabolic steroid use. It also provides practical advice to help anyone who is suffering from issues with use and provides details on how members of the public can report concerns about the illegal sales and supply of steroids to the authorities.
"Misuse of anabolic steroids can have serious effects on users’ health, not only the psychological effect but as they cause fluid retention they can increase blood pressure, cholesterol and the risk of heart failure and stroke,"
The sale and supply of anabolic steroids to the public outside of a registered pharmacy is illegal.
In 2017 the HPRA, working in conjunction with An Garda Síochána and Revenue’s Customs Service detained 449,411 dosage units of illegal anabolic steroids, compared to 109,006 units in 2016 and 38,049 in 2015.
According to Dr Lorraine Nolan, Chief Executive of the HPRA, using anabolic steroids can result in a range of serious health side effects many of which can be life-threatening with long-term use. This campaign aims to inform and discourage people from using anabolic steroids and from buying these products online or from other illegal suppliers.
Dr Angie Brown, Medical Director of the Irish Heart Foundation, said “we welcome this awareness campaign as misuse of anabolic steroids can have serious effects on users’ health, not only the psychological effect but as they cause fluid retention they can increase blood pressure, cholesterol and the risk of heart failure and stroke. As the awareness campaign stresses – there are zero gains to steroid use.”
The HPRA’s visual campaign highlights the negative health impacts of anabolic steroids including mood swings and aggression (often referred to as roid-rage), depression, acne and hair loss, heart and liver issues, infertility and fluid retention. Other related side effects of steroid abuse span kidney problems, high blood pressure and cholesterol, erectile dysfunction, paranoia and delusions. Find out more information on the dangers of steroid use on www.zerogains.ie
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