The American Medical Association House of Delegates yesterday called for a ban on the sale of over-the-counter dietary supplements containing anabolic steroid-like ingredients and their precursors - substances that have potential to be converted into testosterone or other anabolic steroids.
The HOD resolution also called for a coordinated nationwide campaign to turn back what it suggests is a rising tide of adolescent hormone abuse. The new policy, approved at its Annual Meeting, demands that the AMA collaborates with public and private entities, including medical specialty societies, in an effort to reduce the prevalence of adolescent hormone abuse.
"We must do more to educate the public about the health risks of hormone abuse, especially among adolescents," said AMA Trustee John H. Armstrong. "The potentially devastating health consequences for young athletes are an enormous price to pay for winning a game. Hormones, when necessary, should only be used under the supervision of a physician."
National surveys conducted since 1991 indicate that the use of anabolic steroids is increasing in high school students, particularly among girls. The AMA cited the many known health risks of anabolic steroid use in its recommendations, including fertility side effects, the appearance of potentially irreversible masculine traits in females and breast enlargement in males, toxic effects on the liver and cardiovascular system, arrest of growth, and damaging psychiatric side effects.
The AMA expressed concern that dietary supplements possessing anabolic steroid activity, or ones that have components of these steroids or their active metabolites, are readily available over-the-counter or via the Internet. These apparently include derivatives of potent veterinary products.
The new policies were based on recommendations in a report from the AMA's Council on Scientific Affairs (CSA). The study was compiled by experts convened by the Hormone Foundation and supported by a grant from the U S Anti-Doping Agency. The study authors reviewed hundreds of studies and several national surveys to evaluate available scientific data on adolescent hormone abuse.