Anabolic steroids are synthetic variants of the male sex hormone testosterone. Using anabolic steroids to improve muscle growth and sporting performance can make you forgetful, thereby affecting your everyday life, revealed a new study.
Study author Tom Heffernan from Northumbria University in Britain said, "Long-term use of anabolic-androgenic 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."
The researchers assessed almost 100 males aged 18-30 years who were regular gym users. Half of the study group used steroids and half did not. The findings revealed that those using steroids had significantly more deficit in their memory functioning, as well as their mental executive function, compared to non-users.
Steroid users were 39% more forgetting in terms of prospective memory, the process of remembering to do something you had planned to do in the future, such as remembering to pay a bill before it is due or to take medication at a certain time. They were also 28% more forgetting when recalling past memories or previous facts, known as retrospective memory, and demonstrated a 32% difference in their mental executive function compared to non-users. Executive functioning is a term used to describe a number of cognitive processes that help an individual to pay attention, coordinate information and plan and execute tasks.
In some specialist gym user groups, such as bodybuilders and weightlifters, it is estimated that as many as 38% take steroids. Heffernan said, "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."
The results are published in The Open Psychiatry Journal.