Creatine and Cancer

April 1, 2002


1- Featured Article:
Creatine and Cancer – Interview with Dr. Markus Wyss

2- Anthony’s Training Tip:
Good fats that you should not avoid!

Welcome to the April 2002 issue of the Creatine Newsletter. In this issue of the Creatine Newsletter we interview Dr. Markus Wyss about the possibility of creatine use causing cancer. Dr. Wyss is the author of several pivotal scientific articles examining the validity of many of creatine’s proposed side effects.

Contrary to popular belief not all fats are bad. In fact, last month Anthony Ellis taught us that the production of testosterone, one of our most important muscle building hormones, requires the presence of dietary fat. This month Anthony will teach us which fats are good for overall cardiovascular and bone health. These issues are, or should be, of central concern to most athletes. Learn more about Anthony Ellis and his training techniques.

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This Month’s Featured Article:

Creatine and Cancer

Interview with Dr. Markus Wyss

A little over one year ago the French Agency for Medical Security of Food (AFSSA) shocked the athletic world with claims that creatine causes cancer. There has since been a lot of debate (and a huge amount of misinformation) on the issue. This month we are extremely fortunate to be able to interview Dr. Markus Wyss, one of the world’s foremost creatine experts, who will help set the record straight.

AFO: Dr. Wyss what is the reality of these allegations by the AFSSA?

MW: The opinion released by the AFSSA is misleading and lacks any scientific basis. None of the studies performed so far has shown tumor induction or tumor growth stimulation by creatine. Much to the contrary, creatine had either no effect on tumor growth or, in some studies, even displayed antitumor activity.

AFO: Under what circumstances would creatine use be a concern?

MW: Creatine should be used according to scientific recommendations in terms of dosage, duration and form of supplementation. It definitely should not be cooked with the meal or otherwise exposed to high temperatures or strongly acidic conditions. In addition, the quality of creatine seems to differ between suppliers. Although difficult to control at the consumer level, it should be ascertained that only the purest preparations of creatine are consumed.

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AFO: Creatine is nonenzymatically converted to creatinine, which has no energetic value. Is creatinine, either produced in the body or on the shelf, harmful in any way?

MW: At present, there is no sufficient scientific basis to answer this question satisfactorily. High concentrations of creatinine were suggested to be toxic to the kidneys. However, as also supported by recent evidence, both creatine and creatinine might act as antioxidants and therefore have a protective effect. Currently, it is not known whether physiologically relevant concentrations of creatinine (as attained with creatine supplementation) will have an effect at all, and if so, whether the protective or adverse effects would predominate. In conclusion, formation of creatinine should be minimized, as mentioned above, by avoiding high temperatures and strongly acidic conditions.

AFO: Is creatine conversion to creatinine increased by physical activity? If so, does this imply that active people use more creatine?

MW: Again, I am not aware of any scientific study that properly addresses this question. Since strenuous exercise is associated with muscle acidification, and since conversion of creatine to creatinine is favoured at acidic pH values, one might be inclined to assume that more creatine is lost with physical activity. However, I would expect this effect to be small.

AFO: Sperm contain very high levels of creatine. Therefore, does elevated blood creatine levels influence male fertility? Female fertility?

MW: The importance of creatine and of the creatine kinase reaction for energy metabolism of cells and tissues has been demonstrated most impressively for sea urchin spermatozoa. However, in man, it is much less clear whether the creatine kinase system plays a crucial role in sustaining sperm motiliy. As a matter of fact, in an experimental mouse model lacking a functional creatine kinase system, no negative effect on fertility and sperm motility was seen. Based on current evidence, I do not expect an impact of creatine supplementation on male or female fertility.

Scientific Reference

Wyss M, and Kaddurah-Daouk, R. (July 2000) Creatine and Creatinine Metabolism. Physiological Reviews Volume 80: 3: pages 1107-1213.

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Anthony’s Training Tips: Good fats that you should not avoid!

Unlike saturated fats, which are one of the main causes of heart disease, and the degeneration of your overall health, there are good fats which can actually make you healthier. These fats are known as unsaturated fats. They can be further divided into two categories: Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated.

Monounsaturated fats (also called Omega-9) like olive oil and avocados are known to lower bad cholesterol levels (LDL) and raise good cholesterol levels (HDL), though they have little effect on your overall metabolism.

Polyunsaturated fats are also called essential fatty acids (EFA’s). They consist of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. They are called essential because they are needed for normal biological functions, but your body cannot manufacture these fats. They can only be received from your diet.

Like monounsaturated fats, they have a positive effect on cholesterol levels, but in addition, they also will increase your metabolic rate, hinder fat storage, and help to reduce cortisol levels.

The most highly praised EFA is Omega-3. The average diet has very little Omega-3 due to the high consumption of processed foods.

Omega-3 fatty acids are highly unsaturated fatty acids. In addition to relieving the pain and discomfort of arthritis, essential fatty acids also promote normal blood clotting, lower triglycerides and increase HDL cholesterol [the good cholesterol]. This, in turn, lowers cardiovascular heart-disease risk, guards against cell degeneration and some cancers and reduces the inflammatory response of arthritis.

Learn more of Anthony’s training tips.

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