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Creatine for bodybuilding, a danger?

Nutrimuscle takes stock of 5 myths around taking creatine and explains why they are false in the light of scientific studies.
Nutrition sportive
La créatine pour la musculation, un danger ?

Creatine causes hair loss, it is dangerous for the kidneys, it promotes the appearance of cancer, it prevents erections, it is a doping product... All these statements are false! These are unfortunately myths that still persist today despite numerous scientific studies demonstrating the absence of risks of creatine.

Nutrimuscle takes stock of 5 myths around taking creatine and explains why they are false in the light of scientific studies.

What is creatine?

Creatine is an amino acid derivative that occurs naturally in our body. It is also found naturally in foods such as meat and fish.

Our body is capable of synthesizing creatine from 3 amino acids such as arginine, glycine and methionine. On the other hand, our body alone is also capable of synthesizing creatine.

Creatine is a dietary supplement for bodybuilding that is very popular among bodybuilders because it increases strength and accelerates the development of lean muscle mass.

Creatine: myths VS reality

Creatine has a bad reputation, and for good reason: it's been more than 20 years since anything and everything has been said about it, between internet rumors and erroneous information relayed by the media.

Let's take stock of these rumors together in the light of scientific studies.

Myth #1: Creatine is carcinogenic


There are no studies to date that have proven that taking creatine promotes the appearance of cancer.

On the other hand, a study conducted in 2015 demonstrated that continuous intake of creatine, even at a high dose, over 30 days had no impact on the appearance of carcinogenic cells (1).

For this study, men received creatine supplementation for 1 month. The researchers wanted to measure the level of carcinogenic substances (heterocyclic amines) before and after the creatine treatment to determine whether taking high doses of creatine over 30 days would have consequences on the appearance of these substances. 2 high daily doses were retained: 7 grams for one group and 20 grams for another group.

Conclusion: taking large quantities of creatine over this period did not cause any impact on the level of these carcinogenic substances, even at very high doses, which also demonstrates the safety of the supplement at small doses over the long term. term.

For more than ten years, other studies have even highlighted the anti-cancer virtues of creatine (2-3). Contrary to the harmful image given to creatine, it actually plays a key role in the transport and protection of cellular energy. For several years, doctors have even observed the benefit of taking creatine to treat certain cancers.

Myth #2: Creatine is dangerous for the kidneys

This statement comes up quite frequently on the internet or on television. But what does science say about this?

Several studies carried out by Doctor Poortmans (specialist in renal function in athletes) (4) show that taking high doses of creatine in healthy people does not cause any harmful effects for the body. In addition, according to his other research (5-6), short-term (a few weeks) and long-term (5 years) use of creatine has no effect on the kidneys.

Another study focused on diabetic people also goes in this direction and shows that creatine does not cause any problems with the kidney function (although fragile) of these patients.

Myth #3: creatine is a doping product

It is important to remember that in France, creatine has never appeared on the official list of doping products and therefore prohibited. The confusion developed following numerous media cases linked to doping where the word creatine was mentioned. This is how public confusion arose regarding this food supplement.

Myth #4: Creatine causes baldness

The fear that creatine causes baldness developed from a 2009 study (7). The latter showed that supplementing with creatine monohydrate led to an increase in dihydrotestosterone (DHT) levels. However, what is commonly called "baldness" is a phenomenon largely caused by this hormone (DHT). It was not enough for the general public to fear that creatine would cause baldness.

The reality is more nuanced. In summary, it is the genetic predisposition to baldness, different according to each individual, which determines the appearance of baldness. Taking creatine when you are already predisposed will only slightly speed up the hair loss process. On the other hand, if you are not genetically predisposed, taking creatine will have no impact on hair loss.

Myth #5: Creatine prevents erections

During erection, high amounts of ATP (the molecule that provides energy to cells) are used. Our body must then draw on its phospho-creatine stocks. Without the latter, fatigue would quickly appear and the erection could not be maintained due to lack of energy. Therefore, creatine's role is to maintain the erection and therefore has no negative effect on it.

You will have understood, creatine is not, as many people want you to believe, a substance that is harmful to the body. In more than 20 years of use of this supplement by many athletes around the world, no serious scientific study has demonstrated negative effects caused by creatine on the body.

Scientific references

(1) Tavaresdos Santos Pereira R. Can creatine supplementation form carcinogenic heterocyclic amines in humans? J Physiol. 2015 Jul 6. [Epub ahead of print]

(2) Patra S. A short review on creatine-creatine kinase system in relation to cancer and some experimental results on creatine as adjuvant in cancer therapy. Amino Acids. 2012 Jun;42(6):2319-30.

(3) Norman K. Effects of creatine supplementation on nutritional status, muscle function and quality of life in patients with colorectal cancer--a double blind randomized controlled trial. Clin Nutr. 2006 Aug;25(4):596-605.

(4) Poortmans JR. Renal dysfunction accompanying oral creatine supplements. The Lancet. 1998. 352. pp. 234.

(5) Poortmans JR. Effect of short-term creatine supplementation on renal response in men. Eur J Appl Physiol. 1997. 76: p. 566.

(6) Poortmans JR. Long-term oral creatine supplementation does not impair renal function in healthy athletes. Med Sci Sports Exercise. 1999 Aug;31(8):1108-10.

(7) Van der Merwe J. Three Weeks of Creatine Monohydrate Supplementation Affects Dihydrotestosterone to Testosterone Ratio in College-Aged Rugby Players. Clin J Sport Med. 2009 Sep;19(5):399-404

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