Anabolic-Androgenic Steroids and Prohibited Substances Misuse among Iranian Recreational Female Bodybuilders and its Associated Psycho-socio-demographic Factors

Document Type : Original Article


1 Associate Professor, Department of Sports and Exercise Medicine, School of Medicine, Iran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

2 Student of Medicine, Hazrat Rasool-e-Akram Hospital, Iran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

3 Professor, Department of Sports and Exercise Medicine, School of Medicine, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran


Background: The growing tendency to anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS) and prohibited substances misuse by female athletes is a new public health concern. Epidemiological studies in this field are necessary to introduce an effective preventive drug control program in gyms. This study directed to evaluate the prevalence of AAS and other banned substances use and assess its association with some psycho-social and also demographic parameters among Iranian female recreational bodybuilders.
Methods:This study was done from January to March 2017 and 289 recreational female bodybuilders from 41 randomly-selected fitness and sports clubs in different geographic parts of Tehran, Iran, were included. Age, education level, months of sport involvement, frequency of sport participation in a week (hour), body image assessed by Multidimensional Body-Self Relations Questionnaire (MBSRQ), and history of AAS and substances intake as the psycho-socio-demographic parameters were recorded by interviews using questionnaires.
Findings: Subjects were all recreational female bodybuilders [mean and standard deviation (SD) of age:
26.3 ± 6.3, range: 15–52 years]. Self-report of AAS abuse was recorded in 70 bodybuilders (24.2%). Among prohibited substances, the use of stimulants (amphetamine or methamphetamine) and other illicit drugs was recorded in 10(3.5%) and 95(32.9%) athletes, respectively. 112 (38.8%)participants reported somatotropin use. Cigarette smoking, hookah use, and alcohol intake were reported by 42 (14.5%), 162 (56.1%), and
49 (17.0%) female bodybuilders, respectively. Among different evaluated parameters, merely the frequency of sport participation in a week and sport experience was inversely associated with AAS consumption.
Conclusion: Based on the subjects’ self–statement, AAS and substance misuse was surprisingly common in recreational female bodybuilders. Some factors including weekly frequency of sport participation and the duration of sport involvement may influence the prevalence of AAS abuse.


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