Gay, bisexual boys more likely to use steroids
February 4th, 2014
12:36 PM ET

Gay, bisexual boys more likely to use steroids

Everyone has heard about steroid abuse in the context of professional athletics, but its misuse among adolescent boys has gotten a lot less attention.

A new study suggests that gay and bisexual adolescent boys are more than five times more likely to use anabolic-androgenic steroids - which increase the development of secondary male sex characteristics - than heterosexual adolescent boys.  The study appeared Monday in the journal Pediatrics.

Researchers Aaron Blashill and Steven Safren, both affiliated with Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, were "shocked" at how much more steroid use affects sexual minorities, Blashill said.  It is not common to find such a strong disparity in psychological research.

"It really highlights that this is clearly an at-risk group," Blashill said.


Testosterone and synthetic derivatives of it are forms of anabolic-androgenic steroids. These substances are most commonly used to enhance strength, performance or muscularity, according to the study.

Nearly 25% of adult men who misuse these steroids say they first started during adolescence.  However, this is the first study to examine the issue as it pertains to sexual orientation in boys, and to find a significant difference in sexual minorities compared to heterosexuals.

"We know steroid use among boys usually is more driven by appearance-related motives as opposed to performance enhancement, as we see with pro athletes," Blashill said. "The motives are a bit different."

Serious health problems may ensue from chronic use of anabolic-androgenic steroids.  Adolescent use of these steroids has been associated with cardiovascular, endocrine and psychiatric complications, in addition to other negative health outcomes, the study said.


Researchers analyzed information gathered from 17,250 adolescent boys who came from 14 jurisdictions around the United States.  Of these participants, 635 were classified as "sexual minorities" based on their answers to questions about sexual identity, attraction and behavior. The study authors did not ask about transgender identity.

The data were collected in the form of surveys given to the boys in 2005 and 2007.

Participants answered questions about how many times they had taken steroid pills or shots without a doctor's prescription, as well as questions gauging symptoms of depression and suicidal thoughts.  They also answered questions about substance abuse and victimization. A question about asthma was included because this is a condition for which some steroids are used as a treatment.


Researchers found that 21% of adolescent boys who were classified as sexual minorities misused anabolic-androgenic steroids in their lives, compared to 4% of heterosexual boys.

"The most startling finding is that when you look at the severe users," who had used the steroids 40 or more times in their life, "that disparity continued," Blashill said.

Sexual minority boys also tended to have a greater likelihood of experiencing depression or suicidal thoughts, victimization and substance abuse.  These were also predictors of misusing anabolic-androgenic steroids.

When researchers controlled for these variables, they still observed an effect of sexual minority status on steroid misuse, but it was a weaker association.  Blashill believes that body image issues would explain the rest of the link between steroid misuse and sexual orientation, but the study did not directly study perceptions of body image.

Previous studies have shown that body dissatisfaction is a strong predictor of anabolic-androgenic steroid misuse, and that gay males tend to report more dissatisfaction with their bodies than heterosexual males.


This is a correlational study, which means that researchers did not prove that having symptoms of depression or having been victimized drives people to use anabolic-androgenic steroids.  The study did not address whether the pattern is the same in rural vs. urban settings.

A possible design flaw is that participants answered questions about using "steroids" without a prescription, not "anabolic-androgenic steroids," so they may have been thinking about corticosteroids such as hydrocortisone. Corticosteroids are drugs resembling cortisol, a hormone produced by the adrenal glands.

But the study authors argue that because the steroid question followed prompts about illegal substances, participants were more likely to be thinking about anabolic-androgenic steroids during the survey.

More research is needed to confirm the findings of this study.


Medical providers, school counselors, and therapists should include anabolic-androgenic steroids as part of a standard assessment of drugs and alcohol, Blashill said. They should also consider other performance and appearance-enhancing drugs, which also carry health risks.

"If we know that a boy has body image concerns, then we definitely should be assessing what sort of behaviors he might be engaged in, in response to that dissatisfaction," Blashill said.

soundoff (54 Responses)
  1. jamul bob

    Narcissism and the gay lifestyle are two sides of the same coin. No demographic is as self-centered as the gay community; hence the advent of "Gay Pride".

    February 4, 2014 at 14:14 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rob

      Bob, perhaps you could quantify how much more self-centered and narcissistic the gay community is than any other subset of the population. It sounds like you're the expert on gay community issues so maybe you could go so far as to provide a link to where you found this data. Oh wait, this is just your personal opinion. Someone can be proud of who they are and what they stand for and not be narcissistic or self-centered. You know what is two sides of the same coin? Ignorant people and making ignorant remarks. Funny how that works.

      February 4, 2014 at 14:34 | Report abuse |
    • Jen

      You might have touched upon something. Using my Facebook friends as an example, I have several gay male friends (a few female but that's not what I focusing on right now). Half of these gay males post full body pics of themselves scantily dressed on a regular basis. None of my straight male friends do this.

      February 4, 2014 at 23:12 | Report abuse |
    • Jen

      Oh, and they're extremely buff and muscled. One of them posts pics of himself in his little tight underwear.

      February 4, 2014 at 23:30 | Report abuse |
    • Razi

      But the correlation between steroid use and victimization might as well indicate that they are talking it to gain muscle mass for an edge on fighting back against bullies. Getting a nice six pack might just be icing on the cake.

      February 5, 2014 at 17:00 | Report abuse |
    • ldesicekxcxcv

      Black Men Dating White Women,White men Seeking Black Women on
      ------ BlackMenDatingWhiteWomen.o/r/g----. Thousands of Black Men, Black Women, White Men and White Women Free Join Here Everyday.Here a 100% safe, serious and real community for black & white single seeking interracial relationships, friendships, dating ,love and more. The site has established 12+ years. Millions of singles have joined it.fvvvvvvvvvvvvvvv

      February 6, 2014 at 10:35 | Report abuse |
    • Dan Z

      When you grow up listening to haters and ignorant people like the posters here, you have to try harder to like yourself. Some of you refer to gay friends but I have to wonder whether you really are friends to them or not since you have such unkind opinions of them.

      February 6, 2014 at 15:59 | Report abuse |
  2. JOHN

    Being gay is a lifestyle as much as being straight is a lifestyle. When I hear straight men and women refer to themselves as having a heterosexual lifestyle then I will be open to using that term. And that is two sides of the same coin.

    February 4, 2014 at 15:50 | Report abuse | Reply
    • jujubeans

      Right; you choose your lifestyle; you don't choose being gay or straight.

      February 4, 2014 at 16:23 | Report abuse |
  3. Ryan

    I wonder if the comments will have anything to do with the article?

    February 5, 2014 at 14:56 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ben

      Unlikely, considering this is a mainstream media site.

      February 5, 2014 at 16:07 | Report abuse |
  4. penelope


    February 6, 2014 at 03:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Derick Gardner

    Jen is right. Most gay guys are only concerned about their appearance and they tend to be exhibitionists. Of course, they are going to attempt to use anything they can get their hands on to attain perfection. I should know because I'm gay myself. However, the older you get the harder it becomes, and eventually you realize that remaining in a so-called "state of perfection" is unsustainable. We are all victims of the aging process and trying to fight it and look young when you are already old just makes you look ridiculous not to mention the butt of a lot of bad jokes.

    February 6, 2014 at 03:38 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Vanessa

      I have quite a few gay guy friends and I can say none of them are solely concerned about their appearance. Yes, like the rest of us that like to look good, they do care about their appearance. But that's not their sole concern.

      June 9, 2014 at 15:09 | Report abuse |
  6. Jesse

    Makes sense. I've spent a lot of time in gyms. At first I was kinda surprised by the numbers of huge bodybuilder dudes that were gay, but then I started seeing it so much it's like common knowledge to me. I always just theorized on my own that those big bodybuilder guys do what they do (bodybuilding) because they are obsessed with the perfect male form. They not only want it for themselves, they are attracted to it.

    February 6, 2014 at 12:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. jack

    Thats why gays have small balls, well good to know they wont get in the way of rectulintercourse

    February 11, 2014 at 19:31 | Report abuse | Reply
    • kenoff

      U mean colorectum intercourse, what a fecal-seminal fluid ejaculation

      February 11, 2014 at 19:34 | Report abuse |
  8. Bloudd

    Ironically, most of the bodybuilding world and publicity targets heterosexual people so in my eyes it is heterosexual people who are far more concerned about physical appearance.

    Have you seen those ads where a male bodybuilder is showed with phrases like "how to be better in bed" or "how to shape the abs that will get you the women of your dreams" etc?

    Heterosexual people are certainly really shallow and publicity understands it.

    April 29, 2015 at 21:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Gabrielfet

    п»їhttps://bit.ly/34RxuK7 – Sex without obligation in your city

    – Dating and sex without obligation in your city


    November 29, 2020 at 01:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Rodgerzsl

    https://bit.ly/2I3ZL7m – Sex without obligation in your city

    https://bit.ly/2I3ZL7m – Flirting in your city

    December 17, 2020 at 07:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Gabrielfet

    https://bit.ly/3pn28mx – Flirting in your city

    https://bit.ly/2I3ZL7m – Dating and sex without obligation in your city


    January 6, 2021 at 16:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. what is devsecops

    952016 632559This internet web page is genuinely a walk-through for all with the information you wanted about this and didnt know who to ask. Glimpse here, and youll surely discover it. 33329

    February 12, 2021 at 13:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. AlexAgeve

    Hey, everybody! Check out the brand new CryptoTab browser! You just use it like a regular browser (watch Youtube, browse websites or social media networks, etc.) and earn income in BTC at the same time thanks to its built-in mining algorithm!

    News bitcoin

    http://bit.ly/3aUbuAU PBN grids from 2000 sites


    March 1, 2021 at 06:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. arvest bank

    663520 32216Im not certain exactly why but this internet internet site is loading incredibly slow for me. Is anyone else having this issue or is it a problem on my end? Ill check back later and see if the issue nonetheless exists. 176940

    March 8, 2021 at 23:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. buy dumps online

    551621 629323I just want to tell you that Im very new to weblog and honestly liked this web website. A lot more than likely Im preparing to bookmark your blog post . You definitely come with exceptional articles and reviews. Bless you for sharing your internet internet site. 567351

    March 21, 2021 at 19:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. buy letter necklace

    38329 645251Oh my goodness! a great post dude. Thank you Even so I will probably be experiencing problem with ur rss . Dont know why Can not subscribe to it. Will there be any person obtaining identical rss problem? Anybody who knows kindly respond. Thnkx 437853

    April 11, 2021 at 07:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. tadalafil daily use

    tadalafil daily use https://elitadalafill.com/ buy tadalafil us

    April 14, 2021 at 22:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. vardenafil sublingual under tongue

    vardenafil teva pharmaceutical https://vegavardenafil.com/ generic levitra vardenafil 20mg

    April 17, 2021 at 06:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. ed treatment tablets

    erectile dysfunction reviews https://canadaerectiledysfunctionpills.com/ erectile function after urethralplasty

    April 19, 2021 at 09:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. zithromax online canada

    zithromax oral https://zithromaxes.com/ what is zithromax used for

    April 23, 2021 at 16:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. WilliamPeesy

    In any occasion, the standards of good news-casting haven't been minded of past this significant snare index. Google actually thinks often take the dash and sum total of articles, particularly as a component of its XML. Great news-casting is tied in with being straightforward and as consistent headed as could be expected.

    Benefit of what reason do you evaluate the Google XML sitemap creeps, lists, and distributes outsider site content from CNN, BBC, Techcrunch, The Divider Boulevard Logbook and others in its list items?

    my blog


    April 26, 2021 at 02:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. fake Creole Earrings

    530847 675808As I internet site owner I conceive the content material here is rattling superb , thanks for your efforts. 827843

    April 28, 2021 at 08:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. malaraquin

    who makes chloroquine phosphate https://chloroquineorigin.com/ chlooquine

    April 29, 2021 at 19:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. avanafil

    avanafil vs cialis buy avanafil uk

    April 30, 2021 at 11:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. ดูบอลออนไลน์

    458875 719049I was suggested this weblog by way of my cousin. Im no longer confident whether or not this put up is written by him as nobody else realize such detailed about my trouble. You are fantastic! Thanks! 562077

    May 1, 2021 at 19:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. dapoxetine

    buy avanafil online priligy tablets uk

    May 3, 2021 at 16:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. fake designer websites

    808242 578179Howdy! I just wish to give a huge thumbs up for the excellent information you might have here on this post. I will probably be coming back to your weblog for more soon. 223049

    May 7, 2021 at 13:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Allan Dangler

    Have you ever heard of second life (sl for short). It is basically a online game where you can do anything you want. sl is literally my second life (pun intended lol). If you would like to see more you can see these sl websites and blogs


    May 10, 2021 at 17:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Roselia Zarucki

    This was great! I would like you to clean up all this spam though


    May 12, 2021 at 02:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. brimonidine

    combigan side effects combigan eye drops

    May 15, 2021 at 09:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. cyclomune

    cyclosporine cost cyclomune 0.1% eye drops cost

    May 20, 2021 at 07:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. brimonidine

    generic brimonidine combigan side effects

    May 24, 2021 at 08:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. tausAffessy

    https://tadalafilol.com/ buy generic cialis online with mastercard cialis cost tadalafil goodrx side effects for tadalafil

    May 25, 2021 at 10:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Virgil Laue

    This was awesome! I would like you to clean up all this spam though


    June 1, 2021 at 00:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Yajaira Swaine

    The Olympic Park Center is used in swimming games.I am very important.


    June 4, 2021 at 04:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Jeana Farer

    This was awesome! I would like you to clean up all this spam though


    June 6, 2021 at 02:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Willy Ellstrom

    This was awesome! I would like you to clean up all this spam though


    June 7, 2021 at 13:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Bethann Kalenak

    This was awesome! I would like you to clean up all this spam though


    June 11, 2021 at 09:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Julieta Cambronne

    Have you ever heard of second life (sl for short). It is basically a game where you can do anything you want. SL is literally my second life (pun intended lol). If you want to see more you can see these second life authors and blogs


    June 12, 2021 at 16:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Tanner Mcmonagle

    I don't know about you people but I love airplanes. I have a friend in highschool that loves airplanes, so here are some airplane related stuff I don't know about you guys but I love airplanes. I had a friend in highschool that loved airplanes, so here are some airplane related stuff https://www.airlinereporter.com/2010/02/video-boeing-787-dreamliner-za004-landing/


    June 13, 2021 at 02:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Austin Luchini

    I don't know about you all but I am obsessed with airplanes. I had a friend in highschool that loves airplanes, so here are some airplane related stuff I don't know about you guys but I love airplanes. I had a friend in highschool that loved airplanes, so here are some airplane related stuff https://www.airlinereporter.com/2010/10/airline-livery-of-the-week-air-do-does-it-wrong/


    June 13, 2021 at 17:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Susantap

    Watch my home video odette delacroix bdsm

    June 15, 2021 at 07:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Wiley Bundy

    Have you ever heard of second life (sl for short). It is basically a game where you can do anything you want. SL is literally my second life (pun intended lol). If you want to see more you can see these sl authors and blogs


    June 18, 2021 at 11:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. www.pharmaceptica.com

    choroquine https://www.pharmaceptica.com/

    June 20, 2021 at 03:09 | Report abuse | Reply

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.