Stack ‘Em Up How Steroids Could Give Teen Athletes a One-Two Punch with Concussions

Steroid Use May Increase Chances of Concussions in Adolescent Athletes

Steroid Use Linked to Concussions in High School Athletes: A Dangerous Game

News Picture: Steroid Use Could Raise Teen Athletes’ Odds for Concussion

By Cara Murez HealthDay Reporter

Steroid use among high school athletes is not only a pressing concern but now, new research reveals that these young athletes are also at a higher risk of suffering concussions while engaged in sports.

According to a study published in the Journal of Osteopathic Medicine, the neurobehavioral changes triggered by steroid use may lead to increased aggressive behavior during play, resulting in a heightened risk for concussions. “Moreover,” explains researcher Kennedy Sherman of Oklahoma State University College of Osteopathic Medicine at Cherokee Nation, “athletes using steroids are likely to have higher muscle volume and increased muscle strength, amplifying the momentum and impact of head-on collisions. Steroid use and concussions each have numerous health consequences, and when occurring together in a person, these effects may be amplified.”

The researchers analyzed data from a Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System survey, which revealed that 3.7% of young athletes reported using steroids, while approximately 20.7% of all athletes had sustained a concussion. However, among those who did not use steroids, almost 20% reported a concussion, paling in comparison to the staggering 55% of steroid users who had experienced concussions.

Despite this disheartening information, there is a silver lining: the prevalence of steroid use among high school athletes has actually decreased from 3.4% in 1999 to 1.9% in 2019. The highest rates occurred in 2001 and 2003, at 5.3% and 4.4% respectively. Interestingly, the use of steroids varied across ethnic groups, with the American Indian/Alaska Native group displaying the highest rate at 7.2%.

These young athletes turn to steroids as a means to enhance muscle strength and mass. However, these drugs come at a hefty price, as they can inflict severe, long-lasting, and sometimes irreversible damage. Heart attacks, strokes, liver tumors, kidney failure, male infertility, and psychiatric problems are just some of the potential side effects. Furthermore, users may experience increased aggression, anxiety, and decreased impulse control.

Given the risks involved, it is crucial for coaches to remain vigilant and attuned to potential steroid use among their players. The researchers strongly recommend that coaches, trainers, and physicians implement concussion protocols and promptly remove players from games for evaluation when a concussion is suspected.

More information

For further information about anabolic steroids, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

SOURCES: Journal of Osteopathic Medicine, news release, Oct. 20, 2023