Source: National Athletic Trainers' Association

DALLAS, September 20, 2012 - The National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA) today issued a position statement summarizing the best available evidence related to the use of anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS). According to the statement, improved understanding of AAS in the sports medicine and athletic communities is needed: AAS abuse can lead to a host of negative effects on the health and well-being of athletes and non-athletes alike. The position statement was created by the NATA Research & Education Foundation and appears in the September 2012 issue of the Journal of the Athletic Training, NATA's scientific publication.

While most of the public and media attention concerning AAS has been focused on professional athletes, abuse of these powerful drugs is also a serious problem at the high school and collegiate levels of sport and among general fitness enthusiasts as well.

"Based on recent trend research, we project there are an estimated 750,000 high school AAS abusers in the U.S.," said, Robert Kersey, PhD, ATC, CSCS, lead author of the position statement and director of the athletic training education program at California State University at Fullerton. "Worldwide, AAS abuse is estimated in the tens of millions."

"It is vital that health care professionals, coaches, parents, administrators and the athletes themselves know the signs and symptoms of possible AAS abuse so they can educate others with the most current and accurate information," added Kersey. "And, if athletes or others suspect AAS abuse they should bring it to the attention of the athletic trainer or other qualified health care professional."

The statement reinforces that identification of the AAS abuser (or potential abuser) by a health care professional is critical to help prevent any negative consequences; and that proper direction, guidance, support and possible referral are essential in assisting those at risk.

According to NATA's position statement, anabolic-androgenic steroids are powerful Schedule III pharmaceuticals that are related to naturally occurring human hormones. Although the therapeutic use of these synthetic, testosterone-based derivatives can provide specific, limited medical benefits, they are most frequently abused to gain athletic performance advantages, develop physiques and improve body image.

AAS misuse has been shown to lead to negative health effects on the central nervous system, cardiovascular system, musculoskeletal system, immune system, skin, liver, kidneys and reproductive organs. Individuals who are abusing these drugs for athletic advantage or image often dangerously rely on questionable information and illegal drug sources, which increases the risk of serious medical consequences.

The signs and symptoms of AAS abuse include the following: · Rapid body mass or performance increases · Extreme muscular growth · Abnormal, excessive or unexpected acne · Unexplained hypertension · Euphoria and irritability · Moodiness · Aggression · Episodic depression · Secretive actions · Excessive exercise · Increased obsession with physique and diet "Well designed and properly implemented education appears to reduce abuse among some groups," Kersey said. "Athletic trainers are often in a unique position to assess and assist AAS abusers and those who may become AAS abusers, and when necessary, they should call on other qualified health care professionals as referral resources."

NATA's position statement addresses AAS and does not include human growth hormone, insulin, or other frequently abused pharmaceuticals (including insulin growth factor 1 and selective androgen receptor modulators) or nutritionals (e.g. creatine, amino acids and protein powders). For a copy of the complete statement, visit http://www.nata.org/sites/default/files/position-statement-steroids.pdf. About NATA National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA) - Health Care for Life & Sport Athletic trainers are health care professionals who specialize in the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries and sport-related illnesses. They prevent and treat chronic musculoskeletal injuries from sports, physical and occupational activity, and provide immediate care for acute injuries. Athletic trainers offer a continuum of care that is unparalleled in health care. The National Athletic Trainers' Association represents and supports 35,000 members of the athletic training profession. Visit www.nata.org.

Emily Attwood is Managing Editor of Athletic Business.