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Gay Teen Boys More Likely to Use Steroids

Update Date: Feb 03, 2014 01:50 PM EST

Body image can be a very touchy subject for a lot of young girls and boys. Even though body image disorders are often centered on females, a new survey analyzing the effects of body image for males in particular found that young boys who identify as gay or bisexual are more likely to use muscle-enhancing steroids.

For this study, the research team surveyed over 17,000 young boys between the ages of 14 and 18. The surveys were conducted from 2005 to 2006 in 14 cities and states, which included Boston, Chicago, New York City, San Diego, San Francisco and Vermont. The researchers calculated that around four percent of them were gay or bisexual.

The researchers found that out of the heterosexual boys, four percent of them stated that they have used steroids before. Less than one percent of that number stated that they have used steroids over 40 times. For the gay or bisexual group, 21 percent admitted using steroids with four percent of them stating that they have used it more than 40 times.

"Given the dramatic disparity ... it would seem that this is a population in which greater attention is needed," the authors said according to NBC Bay Area.

Even though the researchers found that gay and bisexual teens were more likely to use steroids, they could not determine why. However, they reasoned that gay or bisexual teens might be more concern about their body image and therefore, they turn to steroids to improve their physical attractiveness.

"Generally speaking, the gay male subculture places a greater emphasis on physical appearance than straight men do," said Marla Eisenberg, an associate professor with the department of pediatrics at the University of Minnesota reported by Philly.

Even though steroid use is not a "major killer drug," according to Charles Yesalis, professor emeritus of health policy and administration and kinesiology at Pennsylvania State University, it could still lead to many health complications. Steroids can cause breast growth in men, liver disease, aggression, heart problems and shrinking of the testicles.

The findings were published in Pediatrics.

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