Athletes warned of steroid risks
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Ulster health experts today warned that people who abuse steroids and other sports drugs were putting their health at serious risk.
Following an invest- igation by the Belfast Telegraph which revealed that such drugs were widely available in the province, the Health Promotion Agency said they were aware people in Northern Ireland were using steroids 'inappropriately'.
"Steroids are very powerful drugs and should only be taken when prescribed for health reasons by an individual's GP," said Rob Phipps of the Health Promotion Agency.
Steroid abuse has been linked to liver damage, fertility problems and an increased risk of cancer and heart disease.
Prof Wallace Dinsmore, a physician at the Royal Victoria Hospital who specialises in fertility problems, said he had treated several men who had experienced serious side-effects as a result of abusing steroids.
"They are dabbling in a very dangerous area, particularly when you consider that not much is known about the long-term effects of such drugs," he said.
One report from the British Medical Association found that up to a third of GPs encounter patients who have abused steroids.
It is estimated there could be 150,00 people in the UK who regularly used the drugs.
Last December the Department of Health issued a warning to bodybuilders in Ulster after a rogue batch of counterfeit Sustanon, an anabolic steroid, and Nubain, a painkiller used by the bodybuilding fraternity, was seized by police in Ballymoney.