The Effect of Anabolic Steroids on Memory

Did you consider using anabolic steroids to improve your gym or sporting performance? Well, think twice. A new study has found that using anabolic steroids may cause memory problems.

Bodybuilder-steroid Bodybuilders and athletes sometimes abuse this drug to increase their muscle mass, boost performance, motivation and confidence. It also helps to recover quicker. But some of the side-effects are depression, aggression, paranoia. It also affects blood pressure and increases risk of heart attack and stroke. Finally, it can cause impotence in men and facial growth in women.

According to some researches in UK, up to 38% of weightlifters and bodybuilders use anabolic steroids. The researchers decided to assess the impact this drug has on their everyday memory.

The research included 100 men between 18 and 30 years old, and all of them were regular gym users, but half took the drugs. The results reported that those who took steroids had much poorer memory.

Prospective memory is a term that describes processes such as paying a bill; basically, remembering to do something you had planned to do. It was discovered that regarding this kind of memory, those who took steroids were 39% more forgetful.

Retrospective memory means recalling past memories or facts. In this category, those who took steroids were once again more forgetful – for even 28%.

Executive functioning refers to mental processes that are required to perform everyday activities such as managing time, planning, paying attention, organizing and strategizing. It was discovered that those who used steroids were 38% worse at it.

Dr. Tom Heffernan, North Umbria University, explained the use of anabolic steroids:

“The non-medical use of anabolic-androgenic steroid use came to the forefront in the 1960s when elite athletes and bodybuilders used the drugs to promote muscle growth and improve performance levels. Since the 1980s many millions of individuals worldwide have used such steroids in a sporting context, which has now become much more widespread within non-competitive recreational sports circles,”

He added that besides the documented overall health risks associated with the use of anabolic steroids, people don’t know much about the everyday consequences:

“Our findings suggest that long-term use of anabolic steroids has a significant impact on an individual’s everyday memory and ability to remember. This could affect many spheres of life, including interpersonal, occupational, educational and health-related aspects, given the ubiquitous nature of everyday remembering,”

Details of these findings are published in The Open Psychiatry Journal.

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