Can Muscle Building Supplements Cause Testicular Cancer?

A recent study has been doing rounds in the media investigating supplements (including creatine) and their possible link to this disease.

There is no evidence that muscle building supplements (MBS) can cause testicular cancer.

The study

We wanted to investigate the relationship between testicular germ cell cancer (TGCC), the most common form of tumor-forming cancer in young men, and muscle-building supplements.

In this population-based case-control study. These men were histologically confirmed to have some degree of CCGT. People from the control groups were recruited of the same age and also male residents in these hospitals.

Residents received a questionnaire asking about their use of muscle building supplements (MBS), where use was defined as at least once a week for four consecutive weeks.

The questionnaire asked:

  • If MBS were used.
  • If yes, at what age were they used for the first time (under or over 25 years old, as the participants were between 13 and 50 years old).
  • Number of different supplements used (one supplement or more than one).
  • Duration of use (less than 12 months, more than 36 months or between the two).

A groin injury, cryptorchidism (about 10% of TGCC cases have a history of this, so it is considered a risk factor) and being Caucasian was more common in the TGCC group compared to the control.

Alcohol consumption, tobacco use, and educational level were similar between the groups.

The investigators found that male residents who reported using MBS had an increased risk of developing CCGT (adjusted odds ratio of 1.65 with a 95% confidence interval of 1.11-2.46).

Other findings included:

Residents who reported taking MBS after the age of 25 did not appear to be at increased risk (OR of 1.00 and 95% CI of 0.52-1.91) whereas people who began supplementation before or at the age of 25 had a higher risk (OR of 2.21 and a 95% CI of 1.34-3.63).

Participants who reported taking an MBS did not have a higher risk (OR 1.38 and 95% CI 0.87 to 2.17) while those who reported more than one had a higher risk (OR 2.77 and a 95% CI 1.30 to 5.91).

People who used MBS for one year and those who used MBS for one to three years had no increased risk, while people who had been using for more than 36 months had a higher risk (OR 2.56 and a CI 95% of 1.39). -4.74).

Interpreting the results

Studies like these do not prove a causal relationship (taking X causes Y). Instead, they reveal a potential connection, which further investigation needs to be investigated to determine what causes this possible relationship.

As such, this study should not be used as evidence to prove anything. Instead, it acts as a springboard for further investigation.

The main issue with this study is how broad the ‘Muscle Building Supplements’ (MBS) category is. The authors state that the participant interview included an evaluation of 30 different types of MBS powders or pills, but disclosed:

  • Creatine.
  • The protein.
  • Androstenedione or its booster.

In an interview about one study, it was reported that an evaluation of 30 different types of MBS powders or pills was included. The main ingredients, including creatine, protein, and androstenedione or its booster, were summarized according to the product ingredients.

The researchers also specified that the ingredients were summarized or taken at face value on the label. If the label said there was androstenedione in the supplement, the authors assumed it was true.

Analysis of supplements was not mentioned to confirm this. Confusing ingredients or “hidden” ingredients (those not listed on the label) do not seem to be counted.

This is particularly relevant in the context of recent revelations of the poor quality of supplements in the industry.

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.

Furthermore, it is almost impossible to analyze what this category actually refers to. The only three components disclosed are also very different in terms of their actions in the body.

The breakdown also seems a bit odd, as this article’s main selling point is that people who have reported using something in this vague all-encompassing category, even once, are at higher risk than people who they have never reported anything. category.

Consuming a protein powder once a week for a period of four weeks at any time in your life would be your “only” use according to the interviews used in this study.

Since the MBS category is too vague and broad to dissect, no specific recommendations can be made based on the results of this study. The fact that it is a retrospective questionnaire with an odd use criterion of four times a month does not help.

Bottom line

Ultimately, this study does not provide enough evidence for current MBS users to change their supplementation habits.

However, this type of study will spark interest in the topic of MBS and testicular cancer, stimulate more research, and hopefully result in a better questionnaire that can be used to predict the relative risk of various cancers.

This study does not provide practical evidence to answer the question, on a personal level, “Will this supplement I use give me testicular cancer?” However, it is always a good idea to look up each ingredient in your dietary supplement to see if there are any individual causes for concern.

For example, you can see that the body of existing research considers creatine to be safe.

Right now, there is no reason to fear muscle building supplements as a group.