A very typical case of severe cholestasis due to anabolic steroid use. Because the steroids were being used without medical supervision, the dose and actual duration of use of each preparation was unclear, but cholestasis usually arises within 4 to 12 weeks of starting a C-17 alkylated androgenic steroid. The jaundice can be severe and prolonged and accompanied by severe pruritus and marked weight loss. The serum enzymes are typically minimally elevated except for a short period immediately after stopping therapy. The pattern of enzyme elevations can be hepatocellular, cholestatic or mixed. Liver biopsy shows a “bland” cholestasis with minimal inflammation and hepatocellular necrosis. Ma Huang has also been implicated in cases of drug induced liver injury, but is associated with an acute hepatocellular pattern of injury.
Awareness and educational efforts are working to help prevent anabolic steroid abuse in schools and communities. The Adolescents Training and Learning to Avoid Steroids (ATLAS) and the Athletes Targeting Healthy Exercise and Nutrition Alternatives (ATHENA) programs, funded by the NIDA, and supported by the Oregon Health & Science University programs is teaching athletes that they do not need steroids to build powerful muscles and improve athletic performance. These programs provide weight-training and nutrition alternatives, increase healthy behaviors, less likelihood to try steroids, and less likelihood to engage in other dangerous behaviors such as drinking and driving, use of marijuana and alcohol , and and improved body image. Bother Congress and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration endorsed these model prevention programs. 4