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Menace II Society

Cites an article in the 'Journal of the American Medical Association' by David R. Rubinow (and colleagues at the National Institute of Mental Health) which reports anabolic steriods have significant negative behavioral effects in the men who use them, including irritability, hostility and mood swings. No reliable way to predict who will be affected; Some positive effects of steroids; Details of the testing.

Arnold Schwarzenegger wannabees who persist in taking steroids to enhance performance while pumping iron can no longer write off 'roid rages to simple changes in muscle mass.

In the first placebo-controlled study of its kind, researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health found that anabolic steroids have significant negative behavioral effects in the men who use them, including irritability, hostility, and mood swings.

What's worse is that there is no reliable way to predict who will be affected, says psychiatrist David R. Rubinow, M.D., who headed the study.

"You cannot on the basis of a clean track record in the past be in any way assured that you are protected from the serious adverse consequences of these drugs," explains Rubinow, who likens taking steroids to playing a game of Russian roulette.

Rubinow and his colleagues asked 20 healthy, nonathletic males with no prior history of drug use or mental instability to ingest either increasing doses of the steroid methyltestosterone or a placebo over a 12-day period. They gave the men blood tests and mental-health exams and looked at activity records.

While the drug's effects were subtle and varied greatly, the steroid did provoke anger, distractibility, violent feelings, insomnia, confusion, forgetfulness, and headaches in the men who took it, the researchers reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association ( Vol. 269, No. 21). In the most striking cases three men showed symptoms of mania, hypomania, and major depression.

Of course, not all of the steroid's effects were negative. Many of the men also reported feeling euphoric, sexually aroused, more self-confident, and full of energy.

What's going on? When steroids bind to receptors in the brain, including those in areas of the hypothalamus, amygdala, and cerebral cortex, they trigger the production of proteins that can stimulate electrical activity in brain-cell membranes. This in turn may cause subtle changes in mood and behavior--though researchers are still not exactly sure how.

Young teens whose brains are still developing and muscle mongers prone to depression may be even more susceptible to steroids' mind-altering effects--especially with the sky-high doses typically injected in weight rooms and gyms across the country.