A recent survey in Boston uncovered some disturbing news amongst many gym-goers: a significant portion of them use performance-enhancing dietary supplements, and some are doing so at unhealthy levels that may cause serious side effects. A series of studies determined that between one-fifth and one-fourth of males at Boston area gyms have used androstenedione or the stimulant ephedrine. Women's usage was lower, the survey indicated. One survey showed that almost half of the 334 men included in the survey had taken creatine. Nearly 15 percent of 177 women surveyed used ephedrine, while 26 percent of 334 men had taken the supplement at least once over the course of three years.

Spreading these results across the United States, the survey suggests that two million men and one million women use ephedrine, which has been linked to serious health problems. Dr. Harrison G. Pope, the chief of biological psychiatry at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass., conducted the study along with his colleagues.

In a separate study, Pope also found that both male and female bodybuilders commonly used supplements. The survey's results showed that 56 percent of male bodybuilders and 42 percent of female bodybuilders who do not take anabolic steroids have taken androstenedione.