Supplements are all the rage these days! From vitamin supplements for normal people to multivitamins for pregnant mothers to protein powder for bodybuilders, pretty much everyone in the country takes a supplement of some sort.
But are these supplements going to do more harm than good? According to a study published in the British Journal of Cancer, taking certain bodybuilding supplements could lead to cancer.
The Drawback of Muscle Supplements
A study started at Yale University and carried over to Brown University School of Public Health shows that taking the wrong supplements could have serious consequences.
The team of researchers interviewed almost 900 men from Connecticut and Massachusetts. Of those studied, over 350 of the men had been diagnosed with testicular germ cell cancer, while the others were cancer-free. The researchers asked the men about their drinking, exercise, smoking, and eating habits, along with their family history of cancer. Even groin injuries were evaluated to determine the risk of developing cancer.
Sign up to get our free newsletter in your inbox daily.
The data revealed something surprising: those who had taken creatine or androstenedione supplements had a 65% higher chance of testicular germ cell cancer than those who had not. Even more startling, the men who had taken the supplements before the age of 25 were the ones with the highest risk.
The risk increased to 177% among the men who took more than one supplement at a time, 156% for men who took supplements for more than three years, and 121% for men who took the supplements at an age younger than 25.
What does this mean to you? If you take a lot of these supplements, you take them at an early age, or you take more than one at a time, you’re more likely to develop cancer of the testes. And don’t think that this means you have to overdose on the stuff, either! Just taking the supplements once per week can increase your risk after just four weeks.
According to the study authors,
“Considering the magnitude of the association and the observed dose-response trends, muscle-building supplements use may be an important and modifiable exposure that could have important scientific and clinical importance for preventing testicular germ cell cancer development if this association is confirmed by future studies.”
Now, don’t think that all supplements are going to increase your risk of cancer. This study discovered that only the supplements containing androstenedione and creatine raised the probability of developing cancer.
Androstenedione is a hormone supplement, but one that you cannot obtain over the counter at any pharmacy. Creatine is available in every bodybuilding and health supplement store, but it’s not the most popular of the supplements.
This study proved no link between the average bodybuilding supplement and cancer. If, for example, you are taking whey or casein protein to promote muscle-building, you may not have an increased risk of developing cancer. The same goes for egg protein supplements, and many of the other products sold on the market.
But, for the men who are taking creatine and androstenedione, be warned! While more research is needed to prove exactly how or why the supplements are causing the problem, it’s enough to know that there is a link. It may be time to stop using these two supplements, and switch to another muscle-building or recovery supplement.