February 2008 MedBytes: Anabolic Steroids

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This school year, Texas will implement the world's largest high school athletic anabolic steroid testing program. Physicians who work with student athletes can learn more about signs of use and the dangers of these substances by visiting the Web sites listed here.

Texas Department of State Health Services
Reports and publications that include the prevalence of steroid use among students are found on the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) Web site,  www.dshs.state.tx.us . Select Substance Abuse from the menu on the left of the screen. For current statistics and data, check out DSHS regional reports based on the 2006 Texas School Survey of Substance Use Among Students. The survey shows prevalence and recency of substance use by grade, gender, race, and other indicators. Click on Substance Abuse Trends in Texas to open a PDF summary of substance abuse data gathered from the 2006 Texas school survey, as well as information taken from poison control centers, DSHS-funded treatment facilities, and Texas Department of Public Safety tests and reports.

University Interscholastic League
Texas public schools will be the sites of anabolic steroid testing this school year, and the University Interscholastic League (UIL) will oversee implementation. Visit  www.uil.utexas.edu , and click on Athletics and then UIL Banned Substances Testing Program Information to access the testing protocol that explains the program's rules and regulations in depth and to read over the question-and-answer PDF. Click on Banned Substance List to become familiar with the anabolic agents that student athletes will be tested for, as well as a note about possible contamination of nutritional or dietary supplements with banned substances. The Steroid Education Video link launches a 16-minute DVD presentation about the adverse health effects associated with steroid use, the purpose of the testing program, and the potential danger of dietary supplements.

American Academy of Pediatrics
The 60,000 pediatricians who make up the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) dedicate themselves to the physical, mental, and social health and well-being of infants, children, adolescents, and young adults across the nation. The organization's Web site,  www.aap.org , is teeming with helpful resources practitioners can use to educate themselves and their patients about anabolic steroid use. Click on Health Topics at the top of the home page, select Community Health, and click on Sports Participation to be directed to "A Minute for Kids" audio files. Select Steroids in Sports to listen to a multimedia presentation about the AAP's policy on steroid use and the need to educate student athletes on the dangers the drugs pose and to arm them with strategies they can use to say no. AAP also offers a brochure that will help physicians review with their patients the facts about steroids, including what they are, how they're used, and their potential side effects. "Steroids: Play Safe, Play Fair" is for sale online in packs of 50.

National Institute on Drug Abuse
The Anabolic Steroid Abuse home page of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA),  www.steroidabuse.gov , is stocked with gold nuggets of information on steroid-related research, reports, and public health initiatives. Click on NIDA InfoFacts on Anabolic Steroids to brush up on the health hazards of steroid abuse and to read the Monitoring the Future Survey, which annually assesses drug use among U.S. students in grades 8, 10, and 12. The Research Report on Anabolic Steroids link will point you toward a PDF that outlines the scope of steroid use in the country, the consequences of abuse, the effect steroids have on behavior, and prevention efforts and techniques you can implement to curtail steroid use.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, along with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, has created a national clearinghouse of alcohol and drug information. At  ncadi.samhsa.gov , physicians can view "Squeezing Out the Juice: Tackling the Steroid Issue," a Webcast that covers the effects of steroids, how the pressure to win influences the choices people make, and what the Drug Enforcement Administration, legislators, sports leagues, and schools are doing about performance-enhancing drugs. Visit the Multimedia portion of the site to access the Webcast. The video is an hour long and is available for purchase for about $13 in DVD or VHS format. At the Publications in a Series menu you can select "Tips for Teens: The Truth about Steroids," a resource you can share with your patients. It covers the facts about the health risks involved with steroid use, answers to common questions, and links to additional information.

MedBytes is a quick look at new, or newly discovered, Web sites of interest to Texas physicians. The column also highlights features of the TMA Web site. If you know of some interesting medical sites or have questions about how to use the TMA Web site, e-mail Crystal Conde . Publication of information about Web sites in this column is not to be considered an endorsement or approval by the Texas Medical Association of the sites or sponsors, or of any products or services involved.



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