Does creatine cause cancer? It’s a question that has left many fitness enthusiasts wondering whether their go-to supplement is a ticking time bomb for their health.
There is currently no evidence that definitively proves that creatine causes cancer. Some studies suggest that creatine may possess anti-cancer properties or protect against certain types of cancer.
However, some recent animal studies have suggested that creatine could potentially encourage the spread and growth of pancreatic, colorectal, and breast cancer cells in orthotopic mouse models.
The debate doesn’t end here, as there’s more to the story. So, let’s get reading.
Does Creatine Cause Cancer: What Research Suggests?
The potential link between creatine supplementation and cancer risk has been a topic of debate in the scientific community.
Some studies have shown that creatine may have anti-cancer properties. Creatine can inhibit the growth of subcutaneous tumors and enhance the immune activity of CD8 T cells, which play a key role in the body’s defense against cancer.
Research indicates that healthy individuals taking low or high doses of creatine supplements, either for the short or long term, are not at an increased risk of producing cancer-causing Carcinogenic heterocyclic amines (HCAs). HCAs are chemical compounds with cancer-causing properties, particularly colorectal, pancreatic, and prostate cancer.
But according to a study, people who use muscle-building supplements (MBS) that contain creatine or androstenedione may have a 65% higher chance of developing testicular cancer than those who do not. However, the study has certain limitations. It did not consider other factors affecting cancer risk, such as genetics, lifestyle, diet, and environmental exposures. Additionally, the study grouped various types of MBS without specifying their ingredients or doses.
Another study suggests that creatine supplementation or increased synthesis of creatine through GATM can promote cancer metastasis and worsen the condition of cancer patients, at least in the orthotopic mouse models used in the study. The researchers observed that dietary uptake or GATM-mediated de novo synthesis of creatine enhanced cancer metastasis and shortened mouse survival.
However, this study was only conducted on mouse models, and applying these findings to human cancer patients may not be acceptable. Besides, these studies used very high doses of creatine that are unlikely to be consumed by humans. Lastly, they did not analyze the impact of creatine on regular cells or the growth of tumors in living organisms.
Therefore, the evidence on creatine and cancer is inconclusive, and more research is needed to clarify the potential risks and benefits of creatine supplementation regarding cancer.
Should You Take Creatine If You Have Or Are At Risk Of Cancer?
If you have or are at risk for cancer, it is not recommended to take creatine supplements. Research shows that creatine supplementation may increase the risk of developing cancer. Those who took creatine supplements were found to have a higher likelihood of cancer than those who did not. The cancer risk was also highest in those who took creatine longer.
However, as the creatine cancer connection is inconclusive, don’t decide without research. The best step is to consult with a healthcare professional and determine whether it is appropriate for them.
Does Creatine Cause Prostate Cancer?
According to a study from Brown University, men who used muscle-building supplements at least once a week for four weeks or more had a higher risk of developing testicular cancer than those who did not use them.
Another recent study discovered that even slightly elevated serum creatinine levels within normal ranges are linked to a higher risk of prostate cancer. However, it is important to note that this does not necessarily prove that creatine causes prostate cancer. Additional research is required to verify or disprove this connection and better comprehend the underlying mechanisms.
Generally, creatine is safe when taken responsibly and according to the recommended dosage and timing. However, it is important to consult your doctor before starting any supplement regimen, especially if you have any medical conditions or take medications.
How To Take Creatine Safely To Prevent Cancer?
Here are certain steps to minimize your risk of developing cancer while taking creatine.
- Consult your doctor before starting any supplement regimen, especially if you have any medical conditions or take any medications.
- Choose a reputable brand of creatine tested for purity and quality by a third-party lab.
- Follow the recommended dosage and timing of creatine supplementation. A common protocol is to take 20 grams of creatine (not at once) daily for 5-7 days (loading phase), followed by 3-5 grams daily for maintenance.
- Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration and cramping, which may occur in some who take creatine.
- Avoid cooking meat at very high temperatures or using methods that produce a lot of smoke or char. Instead, opt for lower temperatures or moist cooking methods like boiling, steaming, or stewing.
- Eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein sources, healthy fats, and antioxidants. These foods can help protect against oxidative stress and inflammation, possibly contributing to cancer development.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Do you know having excess weight or being obese is associated with an increased risk of developing 13 types of cancer?
- Avoid tobacco and limit alcohol consumption as they may increase the risk of developing cancer.
What Are Other Potential Risks Of Creatine?
Here are some of the potential risks and side effects of creatine.
Creatine is metabolized in the kidneys, and there is some concern that long-term use of high doses of creatine may cause kidney damage. However, no definite proof supports the assertion that prolonged use of high doses of creatine leads to kidney damage. On the contrary, some studies indicate that creatine does not result in any kidney problems.
While creatine is commonly believed to cause dehydration by causing the body to retain water, some studies contradict this claim. However, it is still a concern for athletes who engage in strenuous physical activity and must maintain proper hydration levels.
Creatine consumption may lead to temporary weight gain due to water retention in the body. However, this is not a cause for concern. If you experience any significant issues related to weight gain after taking creatine, it is advisable to consult your physician.
Although some individuals may experience muscle cramps when taking creatine supplements, recent studies suggest that creatine may not be the direct cause of such cramps.
So, does creatine cause cancer?
The answer is not clear-cut. According to several studies, creatine has been associated with an increased and decreased cancer risk. Therefore, you should consult your physician before taking creatine to determine its potential risks and benefits for your unique health needs.
Stay informed, stay healthy, and get professional advice to make the best decision for your health. Also, don’t forget to visit our blogs.
I started my professional career as a sports medicine consultant in Rola, Missouri. My primary role was to suggest suitable supplements for my patients according to their pre-existing conditions and lifestyle goals. I believe a healthy lifestyle is the most important if you want to make your life really meaningfull.