A strong case against a dangerous category of muscle-building supplements

Today’s topic is not something I routinely write about, but it is very important, as so many men are currently taking muscle-building supplements (MBSs) that contain creatine or androstenedione.  Especially younger men, which is particularly problematic according to the latest research.

In a new study, published in the prestigious British Medical Journal just a couple of months ago, researchers found that these supplements may cause up to a 65 percent increased risk of developing testicular cancer. What’s more, the researchers found a clear correlation between when and how these supplements are taken, and the amount of risk they cause.

Testicular germ cell cancer (TGCC) is the most common solid cancer in men aged 15 to 39 years. And the incidence of TGCC has seriously climbed in recent decades.

This study is actually the first to look at the association between MBSs and testicular cancer. And if you ask me, it’s long overdue. I’ve always suspected these supplements were too good to be true — and now we have proof.

Why is this important? Well, I don’t know about you, but I read many men’s health and fitness magazines, and every other page seems to be an ad for supplements of this sort.  And I have seen many clients whose bodies have shut down their own production of testosterone because of them.

While it may not be troubling to you, per se, I am certain that someone you know is using supplements of this kind.  And the scariest part of this is that younger men tend to use these more often. To the tune of billions of dollars per year in the US alone. And they’re the ones at greatest risk.

In this study, researchers looked at 356 men with testicular cancer and 513 men without. All were between the ages of 18 and 55. All were asked about a variety of TGCC risk factors, from smoking to family history; they were also asked about lifetime MBS use.

Despite that aforementioned fact (worth repeating: up to a 65 percent increased risk of developing testicular cancer for MBS-takers), there were other fascinating takeaways here: the odds of developing cancer rose even higher among those who started taking MBSs before age 25, who used two or more types of MBSs, or who had taken them for over 36 months. And those associations held firm even after researchers adjusted for other factors.

For those men who started using MBSs before age 25, the risk of death doubled. And, for those who used two or more types of MBSs or who had taken them for a period longer than 36 months — the risk almost tripled.

The nutritional supplement market is largely a buyer-beware affair, and this category is no exception. You must always buy supplements from suppliers that you can trust, although they may be more expensive in the short term. But when it comes to this type of supplement, it’s best to stay away, period.

When you are dealing with this category, you’re potentially dealing with adverse side effects that include liver damage and even death.  (Of course, let me point out that Tylenol remains the No. 1 cause of liver failure in the US. Had to throw that fact in again, sorry.)

So, guys (and those who love them), while you may have more muscles, those muscles will be shorter-lived. Hormones are not something to be fooled around with. If you want to repair your muscles safely after a workout — or anytime — have a whey protein shake instead and eat plenty of protein-rich meals.

For more on the benefits of whey protein and how to take it, visit my website www.DrPescatore.com and search the archives. Look for a whey protein powder that’s low in carbs and sugar (8 grams of sugar max per serving); mix with water and ice and put in the blender for a “milkshake” texture.