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1 in 10 Ex-NFL Players Used Steroids, Poll Reports
Date:2/20/2009

Finding comes from confidential survey in research that highlights drugs' damage to long-term health

FRIDAY, Feb. 20 (HealthDay News) -- Nearly 1 in 10 retired National Football League players polled in a confidential survey said they had used now-banned anabolic steroids while still playing.

The researchers who conducted the survey also reported that use of anabolic or androgenic steroids raises a player's risk of suffering joint, ligament and cartilage injuries throughout the body.

"As we studied retired NFL football players, we found that those who had been into the heavy use of steroids during their playing career were more likely to sustain musculoskeletal injuries than those who did not use steroids," said lead researcher Kevin Guskiewicz, a professor of exercise and sports medicine and chairman of the Center for the Study of Retired Athletes at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The admission by New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez that he used performance-enhancing drugs has thrust steroids and other banned substances back into the media spotlight in recent weeks. Other big-name players, including pitcher Roger Clemens and home-run king Barry Bonds, have also been linked with the use of the contraband drugs.

But what about the effects of steroids on a player's health? The report, published in the March issue of the American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, sought to answer that question.

Guskiewicz's group contacted almost 3,700 members of the National Football League Retired Players Association. In a survey that guaranteed confidentiality, 2,552 former pro football players answered questions on their use of performance-enhancing steroids and the musculoskeletal injuries they suffered during their playing years.

Among the ex-players, 9.1 percent said they had used steroids, with certain categories of players more likely to repor
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