McLEAN IN THE NEWS

Pope Testifies Before House Committee

July 31st, 2005

Harrison Pope, M.D., co-Director of the Biological Psychiatry Laboratory in the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Research Center testified before the U.S. House Committee on Government Reform regarding steroid use among young women.

Pope's testimony drew considerable public attention, including an appearance on ABC News' "Good Morning America" and Fox News. He was also cited in numerous articles in the Associated Press, San Francisco Chronicle and Christian Science Monitor.

Pope argued that a recent survey by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) showing that 5.3 percent of respondents admitted to illegal steroid use contained "false positive responses" and that one "cannot responsibly conclude there is currently a widespread public health problem of illegal anabolic steroid use among teenage girls, unless we see new, valid data to the contrary."

The problem is that the CDC used an anonymous questionnaire to assess abuse. This meant that it was impossible to go back to those girls who answered "yes" to the question "During your life, how many times have you taken steroid pills or shots without a doctor's prescription" and ask whether they had specifically taken illegal anabolic steroids. Some girls might have taken steroid skin creams, or asthma inhalers containing steroids, or birth control pills, or over-the-counter adrenal steroids, which were legal until last year.

Pope noted that a face-to-face structured interview, such as the National Household Survey (last done in 1994), would be much more accurate in predicting how widespread steroid abuse is among young girls. At that time the survey found that just .02 percent of women aged between 15 and 44 had taken anabolic steroids.

(Data, quotes and survey results taken from www.stats.org.

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