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HHS HealthBeat (January 25, 2013)

Using steroids, losing memory

A man injects steroids into his arm.

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The Effects of Steroids

From the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, I’m Ira Dreyfuss with HHS HealthBeat.

So where did you leave the steroids? For long-term users of these muscle-building drugs, this could be a real question. A lab study finds they may lose some ability to remember shapes, such as faces, and where things are, such as directions and objects in locations.

Researcher Harrison Pope of Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital, tested 44 steroid users, 31 of whom used steroids for an average of seven years. If you think of visuospatial memory test scores like an IQ score with 100 being normal, users lost about 1.5 points a year:

“If you’d had 10 years of exposure to steroids, this would drop your score on this test to an 85.”

The study in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence was supported by the National Institutes of Health.

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HHS HealthBeat is a production of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. I’m Ira Dreyfuss.

Last revised: January 29, 2013