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Increased mortality rate and suicide in Swedish former elite male athletes in power sports.

Journal article
Authors Ann-Sophie Lindqvist
Tommy Moberg
Christer Ehrnborg
Bengt O Eriksson
Claudia Fahlke
Thord Rosén
Published in Scandinavian journal of medicine & science in sports
Volume 24
Issue 6
Pages 1000-1005
ISSN 1600-0838
Publication year 2014
Published at Department of Social Work
Institute of Medicine
Department of Psychology
Centre for Ethics, Law, and Mental Health
Institute of Clinical Sciences, Department of Pediatrics
Institute of Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine and Clinical Nutrition
Pages 1000-1005
Language en
Subject categories Sport and Fitness Sciences, Psychiatry


Physical training has been shown to reduce mortality in normal subjects, and athletes have a healthier lifestyle after their active career as compared with normal subjects. Since the 1950s, the use of anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS) has been frequent, especially in power sports. The aim of the present study was to investigate mortality, including causes of death, in former Swedish male elite athletes, active 1960-1979, in wrestling, powerlifting, Olympic lifting, and the throwing events in track and field when the suspicion of former AAS use was high. Results indicate that, during the age period of 20-50 years, there was an excess mortality of around 45%. However, when analyzing the total study period, the mortality was not increased. Mortality from suicide was increased 2-4 times among the former athletes during the period of 30-50 years of age compared with the general population of men. Mortality rate from malignancy was lower among the athletes. As the use of AAS was marked between 1960 and 1979 and was not doping-listed until 1975, it seems probable that the effect of AAS use might play a part in the observed increased mortality and suicide rate. The otherwise healthy lifestyle among the athletes might explain the low malignancy rates.

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