Anabolic androgenic steroid abuse in the United Kingdom: an update

Carrie Mullen*, Benjamin J. Whalley, Fabrizio Schifano, Julien S. Baker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)
29 Downloads (Pure)


Anabolic androgenic steroids (AASs) are prescribed for medical conditions related to low testosterone. Abuse of AASs has surged as they become increasingly recognised as potent image enhancement drugs. The primary goal of most abusers is to obtain what they consider to be a more attractive outward appearance. Abuse is complex. There are a vast range of AAS substances available, although due to their illicit nature, the true composition of AAS substances is difficult to evaluate. Users follow dosing patterns which incorporate a number of different AASs, in addition to other pharmaceutical substances believed to complement the desired physical effects or manage unwanted effects.

Studies to support the harms of AASs are limited. Animal work and medical case reports suggest potential to cause serious hepatotoxicity, in addition to possible neurotoxicity, nephrotoxicity and damage to the cardiovascular and reproductive systems. As the long term AAS using cohort reach maturity, further controlled experimentation, with larger sample sizes, is required.

Data gathering should be directed towards establishing knowledge related to the most vulnerable AAS users, which is inclusive of females and adolescent boys.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2180-2198
Number of pages19
JournalBritish Journal of Pharmacology
Issue number10
Early online date28 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - 31 May 2020


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