Look out for signs of steroid use, GPs told

GPs have been urged to look out for symptoms of anabolic steroid use in young men amid reports that rates of steroid abuse are rising.

Teenage boys through to men in their thirties and forties are all in the at-risk group, said Jim McVeigh, a reader in substance-abuse epidemiology at Liverpool John Moores University.  

Acne on the back, accelerated male-pattern baldness and female breast tissue are all symptoms of anabolic steroid abuse, said Mr McVeigh.  

‘The excess testosterone in the body converts into an oestrogen-like substance and leads to growth of female breast tissue,’ he explained.  

High BP, depression, aggression, liver disease and even muscle weakness are also side-effects of anabolic drug abuse.  

Liver function tests and lipid profiling can detect changes characteristic of steroid abuse, said Mr McVeigh.  

He said that several hundred thousand men in the UK are abusing anabolic steroids to achieve standards of physical perfection set by the media.  

Steroid abuse is a strong part of the drug market in Blackpool, Liverpool, Birmingham, Middlesbrough, Nottingham, Manchester and Newcastle, the charity DrugScope has found.  

Dr Clare Gerada, spokeswoman on drugs for the RCGP, said GPs with patients abusing anabolic steroids should consider contacting a local addiction centre for support.  

‘A GP’s role is early identification, and providing advice and support for the patient in terms of what the patient wants.’  

They could offer help by controlling side effects such as hypertension, she added.  

‘You can stop anabolic steroids without too much damage. but you should reduce the dose gradually,’ said Dr Gerada.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins


Already registered?

Sign in

Just published

Young doctor

BMA poll could see 'demeaning' junior doctor title ditched

The BMA could drop the term 'junior doctor' in favour of 'resident doctor' to better...

Houses of parliament

Tory peer calls PA fears 'Luddism' and claims most GP visits 'incredibly straightforward'

Most GP appointments are 'incredibly straightforward' and fears over a wider role...

UK money

NHS pension contribution overhaul to go ahead from April

Changes to NHS pension contribution rates, which will see the top earners required...

BMA sign

BMA warns £800m lost from GP contract since 2019 as last-ditch talks continue

BMA negotiators remain in talks over an improved GP contract offer for 2024/25 just...

GP consultation

GPs still under pressure to prescribe black triangle drug inclisiran

GPs are continuing to face pressure to prescribe the black triangle drug inclisiran...

BMA chair Professor Phil Banfield

Lords urged to block legislation for GMC to regulate PAs

The BMA has urged peers to block legislation that would make the GMC responsible...