New piece up on the congressional hearings on steroids

Sonya Jones and I have our new piece up on the congressional hearings. Among other points, the piece on National Review Online notes:
The committee’s chairman, Rep. Tom Davis (R., Va.) dismisses baseball's new rules, justifying the tough threats because steroid use by juveniles “is a public health crisis. [W]e have the parents of kids who have used steroids and committed suicide.”

The New York Times this month ran a long story this month on the late high-school-student Efrain Marrero, whose family claims that his stopping using steroids provides a “plausible explanation” for his suicide. While there is no scientific evidence linking steroids and suicide, the Times points to “persuasive anecdotal evidence.”

Yet, some perspective is needed here. While Davis claims that currently “over a half a million youth are using steroids,” the Times notes that, in addition to Marrero, only “two previous suicides had been attributed by parents to steroid use by young athletes.” With steroid use in high schools dating back to the 1950s, the suicide rate — even if Marrero's death were actually linked to steroids and not other factors — seems negligible compared to a male suicide rate for 15-to-24-year — olds averaging more than 20 per 100,000 over the last 30 years.

Even more startling is how the young male suicide rate has fallen over the last decade while steroid use has grown. On Meet the Press, Rep. Henry Waxman (D., Calif.) claimed that, over the last decade, steroid use had risen from one out of every 45 kids to one out of 16, while the young male suicide rate has gone down from 26 to 20 per 100,000.


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