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Steroid abuse has been linked to anger and aggression.

RAOUL Moat's alleged violent outbursts could be related to his abuse of steroids, medical research suggests.

Family members said the 37-year-old ex-nightclub bouncer was addicted to the muscle-building drugs and prone to "unpredictable" eruptions of anger.

Increased aggression and violent episodes among anabolic steroid users have been documented across the world since the 1970s by researchers examining what is sometimes labelled "roid rage".

Experts have also highlighted how a disturbing number of bodybuilders have been involved in murders compared with other sportsmen.

Anabolic steroids were first developed in the 1930s and are used by bodybuilders and other athletes to promote muscle development by flooding the body with the male hormone testosterone.

The physical side-effects of using the drug are well documented.

These range from acne and baldness through to breast development in men, shrunken testicles and even heart attacks and liver damage.

But the psychological effects, particularly with respect to aggression, are less well understood.

In the 1970s anecdotal evidence began to suggest high doses of steroids could provoke "manic symptoms", including aggression, reckless behaviour and euphoria in some users.

Most researchers agree that some users are prone to sudden and sporadic outburst of violent "roid rage" but there is little agreement on why this happens and the extent of the problem.

In 1998 a much-quoted article in the American magazine Sports Illustrated highlighted the large number of bodybuilders jailed for killings compared with other athletes.

One well-known case is that of former Mr Universe Bertil Fox, who was convicted of the murders of his girlfriend and her mother on the Caribbean island of St Kitts in 1998.

There are also parallels between Moat's alleged shooting rampage and the murder of traffic policeman Ian Broadhurst in Leeds on Boxing Day 2003 by steroid-abusing American bodybuilding fanatic David Bieber. Bieber was eventually arrested in Gateshead.

Bieber's father, Frank, blamed the drugs for his son's descent into violence and crime, saying: "That was the beginning of the end."

A US study published in the American Journal of Public Health in 2008 found that young men who used anabolic steroids were more likely to display violent behaviour than those who did not use the drugs.

Another piece of research, published in the journal Behavioural Neuroscience, found that normally placid adolescent hamsters given anabolic steroids became incredibly aggressive.

Even after the drug was withdrawn, the animals attacked, bit and chased intruders on their territory.

Post-mortem examinations revealed changes in the hamsters' brain activity.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jul 6, 2010
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