T Nation

Steroid Study Flawed: Duh!

This is no surprise. When I taught high school I watched kids purposefully lie on these surveys just to be funny. Also, many teens would say they were on “steroids” when they were using creatine. Here’s the article from Fox News (edited down):

[i]Government drug abuse surveys appear to greatly overestimate the number of American teenage girls using anabolic steroids, experts told lawmakers Wednesday.

Scientists and athletes were called to Capitol Hill to testify on what federal figures say is a high number of teenage girls using anabolic steroids for cosmetic reasons. The human-made substances, related to the male sex hormones, can increase muscle mass and promote loss of body fat. Those qualities could make anabolic steroids tempting for teenage girls, experts say.

A 2003 CDC survey concluded that 7.3 percent of ninth-grade girls and 5.3 percent of all high school girls had taken steroids without a doctor’s prescription.

But two experts disputed the agency’s figures, warning that a faulty survey question in its biannual Youth Risk Behavior Survey may have grossly overstated the problem by creating confusion among survey participants.

The survey asked teens whether they had ever taken steroids in pill or injectable form without a doctor’s prescription.

Harrison Pope, MD, a psychiatrist and steroid researcher from Harvard Medical School, told members of the House Government Reform Committee that most teenagers are unaware of the limited number of drugs classified as anabolic steroids and that they may include medications used to treat certain types of skin conditions.

The survey also did not exclude dietary supplements, often marketed to mimic steroids both in their claims and product names.

Alternate Estimates of Steroids Abusers

Pope told lawmakers that the actual rate of anabolic steroid abuse among high school girls is “probably only a few tenths of one percent.”

“The use of anabolic steroids by teenage women I believe has been exaggerated by these studies,” he said. “Among teenage girls there is little evidence to support a serious problem.”

Diane Elliot, MD, a professor of medicine at Oregon Health & Science University, told the committee that the CDC’s 7.3 percent steroid-use rate among ninth-grade girls is so high because many girls mistake steroids for other medications. Surveys instructing girls to exclude other drugs as well as dietary supplements show that 1 to 2 percent of freshmen girls have ever taken anabolic steroids, Elliot says.

“Still, one to two percent is significant when applied to a population,” she says.

Another expert defended the federal figures, noting that steroid use among high school boys and girls has been rising steadily since the 1990s. “It’s available, and available equally to young boys and young girls. If you had to ask me where the bias is, it’s in underreporting,” says Charles Yesalis, MD, a professor of health policy at Penn State University.

CDC spokeswoman Karen Hunter tells WebMD that the Youth Risk Behavior Survey relies on self-reported drug use data from 15,000 teenagers and that “self-reported is always a little less reliable.”

The agency provides the surveys to public health departments in all 50 states, which in turn collect the data. “If they wanted to make their questions more specific, they could certainly do that,” she says. [/i]

My only question is, how disconnected can they possibly be to not have immediately considered that there was an error in this? They are basing congressional meetings and wasting thousands of dollars because of the results of a survey? What did they honestly think was happening? Where are the hundreds of She-Hulks walking around junior high campuses?

Perhaps the study was allowed to be flawed to help whip the public into hysteria?

selective ignorance…i agree vroom

I could see major room for error, given that most adults don’t even know the difference between anabolic steroids and anti-inflamitory steriods.
I just wonder how many kids are taking benadryl and thinking they are gonna get HYOOGE!

The key phrase here is “Government drug abuse surveys”.

My guess would be that self-reporting is the cheapest way to do a study like this, and then the press got a hold of the flawed results and blew the whole thing wildly out of proportion.

The same thing happened with the JAMA obesity study aa couple months ago. The study was hopelessly flawed and made it look like obese people lived longer. The press and food companies were of course thrilled to hear this, and you still see it referred to even though the scientific community has largely ridiculed it.

[quote]alwyn96 wrote:
The same thing happened with the JAMA obesity study aa couple months ago. The study was hopelessly flawed and made it look like obese people lived longer. The press and food companies were of course thrilled to hear this, and you still see it referred to even though the scientific community has largely ridiculed it. [/quote]
Yeah I heard about that. What was the real deal with that obesity study?

If you can’t trust the US Government, who can you trust?

HAHA I MADE A FUNNY

Everyone is trying to make it sound like steroids and supplements are a major health concern and rising problem, just as marijuana and other drug uses. I think the study was done very poorly. VROOM is right, it is done to make the public pay attention and cause a stir, when yet other issues are much more important. Its time to deal with the real issues here, like crime, violence and the health care system itself, especially up here in Canada. How about we focus on getting the public to fight for better health care systems? It is like focusing on saying my shoe laces are in need of replacement when in fact my whole shoe is destroyed and needs to be replaced. Of course, anything to create a stir and get attention is what counts right?!

The real clincher is this: a huge deal was made out of the flawed results, but the media and politicians will barely mention these new, corrected findings.

So, the original flawed results will be repeated for the next ten years (the “Squats are bad for your knees” phenomenon.) Some of those who repeat the flawed stats will be ignorant, while others will be knowledgeable yet stick to the false results because they help to further their agendas.

It’s kind of hard to explain, but the study didn’t follow a number of rules that epi studies are supposed to follow. They didn’t take the smokers out of the study, for one. Smokers tend to be thinner and the health risks associated with smoking can really mess up the data. Also, they didn’t take out people with chronic diseases. Chronic diseases like cancer also tend to make people really skinny, so it looked like skinny people were dying at a higher rate. It made it look like skinnyness was the cause of chronic illness, rather than an effect.

So in the JAMA study, even if a person theoretically had a chronic disease brought on by obesity, the weight loss associated with chronic disease made it look like only skinny people died of chronic diseases. This is a simplification of the issues, of course, but you can see how misleading the study was (if I’ve made the argument right).

[quote]greatgro wrote:
alwyn96 wrote:
The same thing happened with the JAMA obesity study aa couple months ago. The study was hopelessly flawed and made it look like obese people lived longer. The press and food companies were of course thrilled to hear this, and you still see it referred to even though the scientific community has largely ridiculed it.
Yeah I heard about that. What was the real deal with that obesity study?
[/quote]

I would almost like to suggest that surveys like this include a few innocent questions to test whether the respondents have the faintest idea about they are being asked. So a survey on steroids might ask the respondent to name one or more steroids being used, how it is used. etc.

But that is unlikely to happen, and not just because those preparing the survey themselves probably have little clue.

After all, who, after winning a juicy grant for research on a horrid public health threat wants to come back and tell the sponsor: Gee, it turns out its all no big deal. But thanks for ‘X’ number of dollars anyway. The authors of the study then get known as the guys and gals who spent a lot of money to find out the kids are alright. Its always a lot sexier to expose a crisis.

And even if they did include such questions, it would probably only make things worse. We’d get headlines like, “Study Says Teen Ignorance Exacerbates Steroid Abuse,” “Steroid Use Rampant And Myths Make It Still More Dangerous” etc. and the news would go on about teens popping steroids like aspirin and misusing steroids in all sorts of hair-raising reckless ways.

All the while overlooking the fact that maybe Jimmy and Jane’s claims to have snorted D-bol, to have smoked some anavar, and to have shot-up some naproxen sodium last Saturday night suggest they are completely joking or, more likely, have no idea what steroids are, let alone how they are used.

But don’t hold your breath waiting for this to change.

[quote]alwyn96 wrote:
It’s kind of hard to explain, but the study didn’t follow a number of rules that epi studies are supposed to follow. They didn’t take the smokers out of the study, for one. Smokers tend to be thinner and the health risks associated with smoking can really mess up the data. Also, they didn’t take out people with chronic diseases. Chronic diseases like cancer also tend to make people really skinny, so it looked like skinny people were dying at a higher rate. It made it look like skinnyness was the cause of chronic illness, rather than an effect.

So in the JAMA study, even if a person theoretically had a chronic disease brought on by obesity, the weight loss associated with chronic disease made it look like only skinny people died of chronic diseases. This is a simplification of the issues, of course, but you can see how misleading the study was (if I’ve made the argument right).

greatgro wrote:
alwyn96 wrote:
The same thing happened with the JAMA obesity study aa couple months ago. The study was hopelessly flawed and made it look like obese people lived longer. The press and food companies were of course thrilled to hear this, and you still see it referred to even though the scientific community has largely ridiculed it.
Yeah I heard about that. What was the real deal with that obesity study?

[/quote]

You guys are right on, seems as if the standard precedent for Epi Studies are being ignored accross the board. My experience with epi studies lies in investigating food-borne illness. Now granted, I’m far from being the sharpest tool in the shed but excersizing the correct procedures in ommiting various portions of the population is pretty stinking commonplace.

They should be proffesionally ashamed.

The government is promoting studies like this to divert attention from the fact they (the government) are useless on the war against drugs. They can do nothing to stem or stop the flow of crack cocaine and heroin, so instead they after something the average person knows nothing about. They make a giant deal about “Andro” in baseball because they don’t want to admit the billions of dollars in narcotic deals going across/under the table.

Work out, eat right and live properly. Hell a persons got be a doper to wanna do that. Hell, its un-natural and un-American not eat fast food and the other garbage on the market. Anyone that can drink coffee without a Krispy Kreme just ain’t right.

This article pisses me the hell off. The lawmakers arent even second guessing themselves if they made the wrong decision, if even scrutinizing the real facts. Like I said before, we should sue the living Jesus out of them and get our androgens back. Any reports of this happening soon?

I remember taking surveys like this back in the day, and people would always joke afterwards about how they’d put on the survey that they were doin crack and LSD and stuff. I’m sure that now since steroids have made the list the HS students are marking that too to be funny (anyone who confuses creatine with steroids is an idiot).

it’s 2005 and we are no better then ever before. you really have to question the education system in this country considering how these decision making people got to the top. it’s really disgusting. laters pk

A friend of mine had a guy approach him while he was using Surge after a workout. The guy pointed to the bottle and said “Your using steroids, dont you see? It says ANABOLIC right on the bottle.” He wasnt joking.

A few months before a friend of a friends had me read over a paper he wrote for his English class on steroids.
it started, “There are two main types of steroids, Creatine, and Androstedione…”

He said he got the info online.

I’d like to know where all these steroids are running rampant. I never heard about them in HS and even now out in the gym I Never hear anyone even mention it.

I have to admit there was a time I thought anabolic meant it was a steroid, I was young and completly clueless about anything. Way before the whole internet boom we have now.