Anabolic steroids are synthetic androgens which produce nitrogen retention1 and have a weak masculinising effect.2 They have been used to induce weight gain, increase strength, shorten convalescence and reduce debility but there is little evidence that they do so. More specific indications have included their use to promote growth, and for the treatment of renal failure, aplastic anaemia and osteoporosis. Because of the substantial risks associated with these drugs, it is important that their uses be supported by strong evidence.
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