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Anabolic steroid user ends up in prison remarkably often

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    Anabolic steroid user ends up in prison remarkably often

    Anabolic steroid user ends up in prison remarkably often

    Anabolic steroid users end up in prison ten times more often than non-users. That is the conclusion reached by Danish researchers in an epidemiological study published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

    In Denmark, gyms and fitness centers are allowed to participate in a program whereby owners can have suspicious individuals tested for the use of anabolics. Whoever gets caught loses his or her membership. The Danish government records the data of the individuals caught, and makes it available to researchers.

    At the end of 2018, Danish researcher Henrik Horwitz published a study using these of this data, which was published in the Journal of Internal Medicine. [J Intern Med. 2019 Mar;285(3):333-40.] Horwitz's conclusion was that steroid use increased the risk of death by a factor of three.

    For her research, Thea Christoffersen, connected to the academic hospital of the University of Copenhagen, used the same database. She followed 545 young men who were caught using steroids from 2006 to 2017. Christoffersen checked whether these men were convicted of violent crimes and ended up in jail. She compared the steroids users with a group of 5450 random Danish men.

    Before Christofferen started following the men, 3.7 percent of the men in the control group had been in prison in the past. For steroids users this was 20.6 percent. During the investigation, the percentage of men who received a prison sentence rose to 4.9 percent. For steroids users the percentage increased to 29.5 percent.

    The figure below compares the probability of a prison sentence in the two groups that Christoffersen followed. De figures only looks at the men who had not been convicted when the study started. The probability of a conviction was a factor of 9.5 greater among the steroids users than in the control group.

    "Whether anabolic steroids use causes this anti-social behavior or it is a symptom of such still has to be determined", writes Christoffersen.

    The association found gives reason to think, but of course the Danish study does not provide hard evidence that steroid use makes people violent and criminal. The men were tested for doping because gym managers had reason to do so. This can be an unnatural physical development, but also aggressive behavior. This, and the fact that 20.6 percent of the men tested already had a criminal record suggests that we are dealing with a sub group that may not be representative of 'the' anabolic steroids user.

    Source: Drug Alcohol Depend. 2019 Aug 1;203:92-7.
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