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How Thousands Of Young Men Are Risking Their Lives Using Steroids To Look Good
- May 14, 2018 -

How thousands of young men are ‘risking their lives’ using steroids to look good

TENS of thousands of young men could be at an increased risk of dying early from a heart attacks or strokes by misusing anabolic steroids, experts have warned.

The British Cardiovascular Society has warned of the dangers of using steroids now that they are being taken by thousands of people in the aim to build bigger muscles in the gym.

Gareth Jenkins told Newsbeat he has been taking steroids for almost five years

Misusing the substance leaves a person at risk of heart attacks and strokes as well as infertility and mood problems.

It has previously been revealed that steroid use in the UK has increased by a staggering 400 per cent in the last year and reality stars have sparked a massive surge in steroid use among young men wanting to look like the musclebound stars.

In total, 19,000 extra 16 to 24 yearold's started using the outlawed bodybuilding drug in the past year - a fourfold increase according to the Home Office's Crime Survey.

Steroids are legal to use but illegal to supply.

Steroid use in the UK has increased by a staggering 400 per cent in the last year

That means they must be prescribed by a doctor for people to use them safely  but the substance is regularly sold illegally through dealers.

Gareth Jenkins, 29, who lives just outside Cardiff, told to  BBC Newsbeat,  he has used steroids for nearly five years to help him build muscle.

He is aware of the risks but says he doesn't smoke or drink and that's why he feels like he is OK to use them.

Gareth is featured at part of the Newsbeat Documentary Steroid Nation.

"It's still probably stupid from a medical point of view. But that's the way I choose to live my life.," he said.

As part of the documentary he agreed to put himself through a series of medical checks to see if he had caused his body any harm by using steroids.

Shocking doctors discovered the wall of his heart had thickened so much he was "at the very edge of normal".

This puts him at a greater risk of sudden cardiac death.

The news was enough to make Gareth think twice about his habit, but not enough to make him quit immediately.

Instead he said he would aim to come off them "in the next two years".

The steroids are a range of chemicals that mimic the effects of testosterone, typically taken as injections or gels.

They are a Class C drug, which means they are legal to possess, but that doesn't necessarily mean they are safe to use.

Side effects of anabolic steroids can include anger, high blood pressure, mood swings, higher risk of heart disease and infertility, but experts say more research is needed.

Official government statistics estimate there are 60,000 steroid users in the UK, but clinics believe the actual number is much higher and could be as widespread as heroin.

Many men are able to buy them at the gym or over the internet for as little as £2 a shot, rather than getting a GP prescription.

Some studies have suggested it may be safe to use anabolic steroids but the side effects are not well understood.