Creatine: Fact or fiction

Last modified: Thursday, 26. March 2009 - 5:19 am

Does creatine cause cancer? In early 2001, the media was abuzz with reports that creatine had been linked to cancer. The story stemmed from a report issued by France’s Agency of Medical Security for Food (AFSSA), which claimed that creatine posed a “potential carcinogenic risk” for users and urged all sports governing bodies to institute a ban of the substance. The report was allegedly based on a review of the available scientific research on creatine supplementation. But was the real science lost in translation?
Several U.S. researchers speculate that the authors of the French report mistakenly drew their conclusion from published studies analyzing naturally occurring creatine found in protein-rich animal products such as beef and pork. When these creatine-containing foods are heated and cooked, the creatine and amino acids interact to form compounds known as heterocyclic amines (HCAs), which have been shown to cause cancer in animal studies. The level of HCAs can vary with cooking method and other factors. Creatine monohydrate does not contain HCAs, and as of early 2002, no published or reported clinical research existed to demonstrate that creatine monohydrate taken in supplement form causes cancer.

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