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Mortality was three times higher amongst users of anabolic steroids -- steroidal androgens that include natural ones like testosterone as well as synthetic -- compared to non-users.
The higher use was also associated with significant increase in hospital admissions as a result of high side effects including acne, gynaecomastia, and erectile dysfunction.
Anabolic steroids are associated with a range of side effects that can be directly attributed to their pharmacological activities, according to lead author Henrik Horwitz, from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.
The lifetime prevalence of androgenic anabolic steroid abuse is estimated to be around 6 per cent for men but there is limited knowledge about the side effects of these drugs.
In the study, published in the Journal of Internal Medicine, 545 men who used androgenic anabolic steroids were matched with 5,450 controls.
The findings showed that the median annual number of hospital contacts was 0.81 in the androgenic anabolic steroid users and 0.36 in the controls.
In addition, acne, gynaecomastia and erectile dysfunction affected more than 10 per cent of the androgenic anabolic steroid users.
Given the high rate of androgenic anabolic steroid abuse, these side effects are of public health concern, the researchers noted.
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