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Sugar and spice and everything nice? Not anymore. Teenage girls have discovered illegal anabolic steroids, says
Charles Yesalis, professor of health policy at Pennsylvania State University, in a study published in the
Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine. He and his colleagues analyzed data from three notional studies
and found that steroid use among junior high and high school girls, while uncommon, had almost doubled since
1991. That means some 175,000 adolescent girls in the United States have used the performance-enhancing drugs
at least once. (About 375,000 boys ages 12-18 have used steroids at least once this number hasn't changed since
Yesalis and colleagues speculate that the increase may be attributed to several factors, including increased opportunities for women in sports. Yesalis notes that o lean, muscular, "hard body" image growing more popular among actresses and models may prompt some girls to imitate these so-called ideals.
The use of anabolic steroids by girls is of particular concern because these male hormones can permanently affect physical maturation and create a psychological dependence. Long-term use can cause heart and liver damage, increased aggressive behavior, breast shrinkage, male-pattern baldness and abnormalities in menstruation. The effects of these drugs on the female reproductive system are unknown, the article explains. Because drug-prevention programs that discourage the use of steroids are aimed at boys, girls may be ignoring these messages, the researchers conclude.