Steroids: In the news

Last modified: Saturday, 20. June 2009 - 3:43 pm

Some experts believe illegal AAS usage is linked with a body image disorder called muscle dysmorphia. Affecting mostly males, people with muscle dysmorphia feel ashamed of looking too small when they’re actually big. For this reason, it is often referred to as “reverse anorexia” because it is the opposite of the mostly female disease of anorexia nervosa, in which patients believe they are always too fat, sometimes despite extreme weight loss.
According to Dr. Arnold Andersen, M.D. of the University of Iowa, seven out of 10 males are dissatisfied with their bodies. Half of those want to bulk up, while the other half want to lose weight. Another indicator that men are increasingly concerned about their body image is the dramatic increase in cosmetic surgery. In 1992, men underwent 6,000 liposuction procedures to surgically remove excess fat; five years later that figure has jumped to 24,000. Other cosmetic procedures are also becoming popular. “There’s penis enlarging or widening, hair transplants, cheek lifts, and pectoral and calf implants,” says Roberto Olivardia, co-author of The Adonis Complex: The Secret Crisis of Male Body Obsession, a book that describes men’s increasing preoccupation with body image, weightlifting compulsions, and steroid abuse. Olivardia estimates that one in five body builders and weightlifters may have some form of muscle dysmorphia.
A Canadian study that examined body image among 139 male bodybuilders found the bodybuilders reported significantly greater body dissatisfaction with a high drive for bulk and thinness. They also reported higher perfectionism, lower self-esteem, greater maturity fears, and more eating disorders than nonusing bodybuilders. As might be expected, the use of AASs higher among people with muscle dysmorphia. Olivardia surveyed 26 bodybuilders with the condition and found almost half used AASs.

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