As youth sports in the U.S. gets more and more competitive, teenage athletes are apparently looking for any edge they can get. Unfortunately, a growing number of them are turning to steroids.

Usage of human growth hormones (HGH) by U.S. teens have more than doubled in the past year according to a recent study.

Whether it's to improve athletic performance or to simply add muscle mass,  the use of HGH has shot up a 120 percent from 2012 to 2103.

Several experts that study the use of performance-enhancing drugs in the U.S. expressed alarm regarding the increasing usage among teens.

"It's what you get when you combine aggressive promotion from for-profit companies with a vulnerable target -- kids who want a quick fix and don't care about health risk," explained Travis Tygart, CEO of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. "It's a very easy sell, unfortunately."

The report, conducted by the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids and Partnership Attitude Tracking Study (PATS), called the rise in HGH usage a "troubling development" and warned of the dangers if left unchecked.

"A picture emerges of teens - both boys and girls - entering a largely unregulated marketplace (online and in-store) in which performance-enhancing substances of many varieties are aggressively promoted with promises of improved muscle mass, performance and appearance," the report explained. "This is an area of apparently growing interest and potential danger to teens that cries out for stricter controls on manufacture and marketing."

The study, along with documenting the increase in teen use of HGH, also confirms a gradual, and what researchers referred to as a long-term increase in teens' reported lifetime use of drugs. The report claims that steroid use among teens has increased from 5 percent in 2009 to 7 percent in 2013. The study also reveals that approximately one in five teens (21 percent) reports that at least one friend uses steroids, and another one in five teens stated that it is easy for anyone to obtain steroids.

The study also points out that African-American and Hispanic teens are more likely to report use of synthetic HGH, with 15 percent of African-American teens, 13 percent of Hispanic teens and 9 percent of Caucasian teens saying they used synthetic HGH at least once within their lifetime.

Steve Pasierb, who spearheaded the study as President and CEO of the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, warned about the lack of knowledge teens have about the drugs as they continue to involve themselves in steroid use.

 "Given the current regulatory framework of the supplement industry, and the amount of products being marketed and sold online, it is difficult if not impossible to know what exactly is contained in these products teens are consuming," he said

ⓒ 2021 TECHTIMES.com All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.