Harvard Professor jets into Teesside for pioneering research
One of the world's leading experts on the effects of steroid use is pioneering unique research at Teesside University examining the medical consequences of steroids.
Professor Harrison Pope
Professor Harrison Pope, from Harvard University, has teamed up with the charity Lifeline and Teesside University to study whether frequent and heavy doses of anabolic-androgenic steroids might affect cognitive functions such as memory, reaction time and the ability to focus attention.
Using the first-class facilities at Teesside University’s School of Social Sciences & Law, he will be conducting extensive research and interviews with weightlifters from the area to see whether there are differences between hardcore steroid users and people who have never used steroids before.
In conjunction with launching the research project with Lifeline in Middlesbrough, Professor Pope will be hosting a special guest lecture at Teesside University as part of the Audience With series on the evening of Wednesday 23 May.
He will talk about the issue of steroid dependence and explore the reasons why men are attracted to using steroids in western societies. He will be joined by his research associate Dr Gen Kanayama, also from Harvard University.
'There has been speculation that if you take really high doses of steroids then it can have some effects on how the brain functions and could be linked to things like memory loss – but so far researchers have never studied this issue,' said Professor Pope.
'We are going to do tests and interviews with a bunch of people and see what differences there are between the two groups.
'The truth is that science simply still does not know much about the long-term effects of steroids. Although steroids were discovered in the 1930s and were used in elite sports starting in the 1950s – they weren’t widely used by ordinary people until the 1980s.
'People who first used steroids heavily during this time are only just reaching middle-age and we are at the point where we can start to research how it has affected them. Imagine if cigarette smoking did not exist until 1985 – we simply would not know the long-term consequences.'
Professor Pope, himself a weightlifter for more than 30 years, is one of the most highly cited psychiatrists of the 20th century and has been researching the effects of steroids for more than 20 years. He has published more than 300 papers, spoken at conferences all over the world and appeared in numerous television documentaries. One of his most famous research projects looked at the popular Action Man figure and how it has grown steadily more muscular over the
last several decades.
It was in 2009 when he first teamed up with Lifeline in Middlesbrough, a registered charity with forty years experience of managing drug and alcohol services. He worked alongside co-authors Joseph Kean and Adam Nash of Lifeline looking at the issue of anabolic-androgenic steroid dependence and presented an interview module designed to diagnose the syndrome.
Working with Joseph and Adam again, this new study will look specifically at the medical consequences of frequent steroid use, drawing on the experiences of Middlesbrough weightlifters.
Lifeline, which has a dedicated service in Middlesbrough, is a national charity that works with individuals, families and communities both to prevent and reduce harm, to promote recovery, and to challenge the inequalities linked to alcohol and drug misuse.
Professor Pope is also conducting a five year study in the USA, looking at the heart functions in steroid users. Serious male weightlifters, aged between 35 and 55, are invited to visit Boston for a cardiac evaluation regardless of whether they are steroid users or not. The study pays at least $525 (US Dollars) for participation and those who are interested can email Professor Pope at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Professor Pope said: 'Steroids are not addictive in the way that say alcohol or heroin is addictive, but people do become dependent on them. Steroid dependence is arguably the least understood form of drug dependence.
'Steroids are incredibly effective drugs in terms of performance, but a lot of their effects are still being explored.'
An Audience with Professor Pope takes place from 5.30pm on Wednesday 23 May at Teesside University’s Centuria Building, room H0.01. To book your free place email email@example.com.
22 May 2012
In the News
Steroid expert joins university for research
Work Out UK, 01/07/2012, p.34
A leading expert on the effects of steroids is pioneering unique research at Teesside University. Professor Harrison Pope, from Harvard University, has teamed up with the University and the charity Lifeline for the study.
Weightlifters turn guinea pigs as scientist probes effect of steroid use
The Times Online, 24/05/2012, p.1,
Prof Pope was encouraged by the results of recent laboratory tests conducted on neuronal cells, which suggested that excessive and sustained use of steroids could induce apoptosis, or programmed cell death.If his study with Lifeline, a drug and alcohol charity, and Teesside University proves a link, it could lead to a more in-depth research project using brain imaging technology.
Study to look at effect of steroids on the brain
The Times Online, 24/05/2012, p.1; BBC Radio Tees, Amy Lea, 23/05/2012, 16:29:56; Evening Gazette, 23/05/2012, p.10;
If his study with Lifeline, a drug and alcohol charity, and Teesside University proves a link, it could lead to a more in-depth research project using brain imaging technology. His investigation, carried out over the past week, is limited to interviews and computerised tests of verbal reasoning, spatial memory and concentration span.
Pumped up to start steroid research
Northern Echo, 23/05/2012, p.39
A US expert is linking up with a North-East university to look at the medical consequences of using steroids. Professor Harrison Pope, from Harvard University, has teamed up with the charity Lifeline and Teesside University to study whether frequent and heavy doses of anabolicandrogenic steroids might affect brain functions.