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DECEMBER 5, 2007

Examining recent studies on steroid users attitudes towards physicians, the media, etc...

There’s a genre of movies which fall under the “nobody-believes-me” heading. I’m thinking about movies like the recent “Flight Plan” movie with Jodie Foster (where nobody believes that she had her daughter with her on a plane)…but also the older ones like “Breakdown” (where nobody believes Kurt Russell has had his wife kidnapped), and of course the Harrison Ford movie “Frantic” where his wife disappears in France (and nobody believes him).

Then of course, there’s the infamous Paris Hilton sex movie (where nobody believes that she is actually a celebrity).

I think that the “nobody-believes-me” type of movie is a reflection of the way steroid users feel all the time.

The Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition recently published a study examining the trends, patterns, and attitudes of nearly two thousand steroid users. Although I was not one of the people who participated in the study (survey), I can relate to the answers given…and it seems like the main character of any of those movies I just mentioned (except the one with Ms.Hilton) could also relate. More than half of the participants in the study didn’t trust their own physician enough to tell him or her that they use steroids – 92% felt that the medical community’s knowledge on anabolic steroids is lacking, while 99% felt that the public has an inflamed view of anabolic steroids.

When we look at what the medical community has said over the past few decades this is no surprise. In the early days of anabolic steroid research, the American Medical Association held the position that anabolic steroids did not enhance athletic performance. Concurrently, their cronies in the American College of Sports Medicine held the position that the administration of anabolic steroids does not bring about significant improvements in strength, lean body mass, or weight. Back then the Physicians Desk Reference made the bold claim that “anabolic steroids have not been shown to enhance athletic ability”.

Unfortunately for the medical community, the Physicians Desk Reference still says this.

And until the literature in the medical community changes, and the attitudes towards anabolic steroids changes – we’ll never trust them. Athletes have known that steroids work for decades – really, anyone who has ever done a cycle knows that they work. Anyone who watches professional sports knows that they work. In short, everyone knows that anabolic steroids work to enhance athletic performance…everyone, it seems, except for the doctors who write the Physicians Desk Reference.

This same study found that for the most part, anabolic steroid users represented a well educated demographic with a nice average income. It also found that steroid users tended to live a very healthy lifestyle, suffered very few (if any) unreasonably bad side effects, and whose goals were consistent with simply improving their quality of life, appearance, and attractiveness to the opposite sex.

In brief, anabolic steroid users hardly comprise a group worthy of so much newfound attention from the media I would think, persecution from the law, or condemnation from the medical community.

“Off Target” is how the people running that last study have categorized other attempts to address non-medical use of steroids. I have to say I agree.

And missing the target is the primary reason that people in the anabolic steroid using community have felt distrust towards the medical community. In my own case, my own doctor warned me repeatedly about the dangers of anabolic steroid use – even though my bloodwork came back perfect every time. This is a common experience shared by many steroid users – who often feel like they’re stuck in one of those movies I was just talking about.

We feel like nobody believes us, and we’ve stopped respecting or trusting those people.

In 2004, a study done on anabolic steroid users attitudes towards physicians and the medical profession found that reference guides (like the one I wrote) ranked higher in credibility to the average steroid user than their own physician did.

Good news for me – but bad news for anyone who spent 8 years in medical school only to have less credibility than a guy who has never seen the inside of a lab coat (me).

This same study also found that the level of disrespect and mistrust that steroid using athletes feel towards the medical profession has rarely been seen previously – even in studies examining other users of illicit substances.

The authors of this study call this a “credibility gap”.

I call it logical.



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