Kanayama, G., Boynes, M., Hudson, J. I., Field, A. E., & Pope, H. G. (2007). Anabolic steroid abuse among teenage girls: An illusory problem? Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 88, 156-162.

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This study questioned whether anabolic-androgenic steroid use among American teenage girls was a widespread as is popularly claimed. Four large national surveys and a number of smaller surveys were examined.

"The surveys produced remarkably disparate findings, with the lifetime prevalence of AAS use estimated as high as 7.3% among ninth-grade girls in one study, but only 0.1% among teenage girls in several others. Upon examining the surveys reporting an elevated prevalence, it appeared that most used questions that failed to distinguish between anabolic steroids, corticosteroids, and over-the-counter supplements that respondents might confuse with “steroids.” Other features in the phrasing of certain questions also seemed likely to further bias results in favor of false-positive responses".

Implication. "Many anonymous surveys, using imprecise questions, appear to have greatly overestimated the lifetime prevalence of AAS use among teenage girls; the true lifetime prevalence may well be as low as 0.1%." When reading reports of use, it would be wise to be skeptical of the estimates and methodologies used in any survey.

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