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Sports Medicine Channel
Reported August 1, 2005

Steroids and Suicide

Steroids and SuicideBOSTON (Ivanhoe Broadcast News) -- At a congressional hearing in April, former Major League ball player Jose Canseco confessed anabolic steroids were as "acceptable in the '80's and mid-to-late '90's as a cup of coffee." This attitude toward the drugs can have deadly consequences.

This is a far cry from the football field where Marylou Gantner used to watch her son play. Now, she can only visit him at his grave. For more than 10 years, Ed "The Bull" Gantner was at war with his body and mind. He desperately wanted to be a pro athlete -- and saw steroids as his in.

"He said, ‘The idea is to take as many steroids as you can and get out before the steroids kill Steroids and Suicideyou,'" Marylou says. In the end, it was his mind that suffered most. He slipped into a deep depression and found an out using a gun one New Year's Eve.

Suicide is a terrifying consequence of steroid abuse withdrawal.

"We don't know exactly what percentage of unexplained adolescent suicides might be related to steroid withdrawal," says Harrison Pope, M.D., a psychiatrist at McLean Hospital in Boston. "Most guys who take these drugs don't want to reveal that they are taking them."

Steroids and SuicideWhich is why most don't seek treatment. So, recognizing the symptoms early-on is important. They include sudden muscle mass increase, acne, breast development, and personality change.

Marylou can only hope others will remember Eddie's final desperate plea before it's too late.

When men take steroids for a prolonged period of time, they stop producing testosterone, and their testes shrink to a fraction of their original size. If they stop taking steroids at that time, they go through a period of very low testosterone levels. That is what causes depression.

This article was reported by Ivanhoe.com, who offers Medical Alerts by e-mail every day of the week. To subscribe, go to: /newsalert/.

If you would like more information, please contact:

Adriana Bobinchock
Public Affairs at McLean Hospital
115 Mill St.
Belmont, MA 02478
(617) 855-2110

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