London: Using anabolic steroids to improve muscle growth and sporting performance can make you forgetful, thereby affecting your everyday life, says a study.
"Long-term use of anabolic-androgenic steroids has a significant impact on an individual's everyday memory and ability to remember," said study author Tom Heffernan from Northumbria University in Britain.
"This could affect many spheres of life, including interpersonal, occupational, educational and health-related aspects, given the ubiquitous nature of everyday remembering."
The study assessed almost 100 males aged 18-30 who were regular gym users. Half of the group used steroids and half did not.
The results, published in The Open Psychiatry Journal, 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 percent 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 percent more forgetting when recalling past memories or previous facts, known as retrospective memory, and demonstrated a 32 percent 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.
A compromised executive function is likely to lead to confusion and poor planning, while reduced rospective memory ability leads to forgetfulness.
In some specialist gym user groups -- such as bodybuilders and weightlifters -- it is estimated that as many as 38 percent take 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," Heffernan said.
"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."