fbpx Circumstances and toxicology of unnatural deaths involving steroids | NDARC - National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre

Circumstances and toxicology of unnatural deaths involving steroids

Image: Deaths related to steroids
Date Commenced:
2012
Project Supporters:

Australian Government Department of Health; NSW Health

Project Members: 
Dr Michelle Tye
NHMRC Early Career Fellow
Project Main Description: 

This study aimed to provide novel data on Australian fatalities involving steroids. 

Rationale: 

There is emerging evidence that the use of anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS) is associated with increased risk of premature mortality. The study aimed to provide novel data on Australian fatalities involving steroids. 

Aims: 

The study aimed to determine the circumstances of death, demographic characteristics, toxicology and major organ pathology of cases presenting to the Department of Forensic Medicine, Sydney, over the period 1 January 1996-31 December 2012 in which anabolic steroids were detected during quantitative toxicological investigations.

Design and Method: 

Case series. All cases presenting to the New South Wales Department of Forensic Medicine between 1995-2012 were retrieved in which anabolic-androgenicsteroids were detected.

Findings: 

A total of 24 cases were identified all male, with a mean age of 31.7 yrs. Most commonly, deaths were due to accidental drug toxicity (62.5%), followed by suicide (16.7%) and homicide (12.5%). The most commonly detected steroids were nandralone (58.3%), stanazolol (33.3%) and methandienol (20.8%). In all but one case substances other than steroids were detected, most commonly psychostimulants (66.7%). In nearly half testicular atrophy was noted, as was testicular fibrosis and arrested spermatogenesis. Left ventricular hypertrophy, was noted in 30.4%, and there was moderate to severe occlusion of the coronary arteries in 26.1%. The typical case was thus a male polydrug user in their early thirties, with drug toxicity the most common cause of death. Extensive cardiovascular disease was particularly notable. 

Output: 

Darke, S., Torok, M. and Duflou, J. (2014), Sudden or Unnatural Deaths Involving Anabolic-androgenic Steroids. Journal of Forensic Sciences. doi: 10.1111/1556-4029.12424

Benefits: 

Novel data on harms associated with steroid use.

Project Research Area: 
Project Status: 
Completed
Year Completed: 
2013