It seems like every day there's a study that comes out linking something new to cancer. One such study by researchers at Brown University recently linked muscle building supplements (or MBS) to cancer. Will your daily creatine habit really lead to an untimely demise?
Image by David van der Mark
As Examine.com points out, studies like this are correlational, and they don't necessarily show causation. For example, if a study shows that diet drinks are correlated with obesity, that doesn't mean the drinks cause obesity — it may just mean obese folks choose them more often. (Fun fact: Correlation also links Internet Explorer usage to murder.)
One of the other issues with this study is that "muscle building supplements" was a vague catch-all, only disclosing three of the many ingredients that were examined: creatine, protein powder, and androstenedione. According to Examine:
This kind of ambiguity makes it difficult to connect the results of this study with anything more specific than the general category of muscle building supplements. Moreover, it's nearly impossible to dissect what this category actually refers to. The only three components disclosed are also very different in terms of their actions in the body.
You can find Examine's full analysis of the study in the link below, but they conclude:
This study does not provide practical evidence to answer the question, on a personal level, "will this supplement I'm using give me testicular cancer?" It is, however, always a good idea to look up each ingredient in your dietary supplement in Examine.com's database to see if any provide individual cause for concern.
For example, you can see that the body of existing research finds creatine to be safe. At this moment in time, there is no reason to fear 'muscle building supplements' as a group.
It's easy for research like this to create quite a scare for average people, so make sure that you understand what to look for when reading any health and fitness article. Sometimes, long-term correlational studies like this can actually hurt more than help.
Do Muscle Building Supplements Cause Testicular Cancer [Examine.com]