This study built on past research which linked the muscle-building supplement, androstenedione, to testicular damage.
However, as the study authors point out, “No analytic epidemiological study has examined the relationship between use of muscle-building supplements (MBSs) and testicular germ cell cancer (TGCC) risk.”
To test the relationship between these supplements and testicular cancer risk, the researchers interviewed 365 men who had received a testicular cancer diagnosis, as well as 513 men who did not have testicular cancer (for a control group).
Along with standard questions such as those regarding family history, exercise practices, history of injury, and smoking and drinking habits, the researchers asked the men questions regarding their supplement use.
What they found was quite astonishing: The men who took muscle-building supplements had a 65 percent higher risk of developing testicular cancer than the men who did not.
The risk was even higher for men who reported using the supplements for over three years, and for those that began using them before they turned 25 years of age.
The highest risk of developing testicular cancer was found to be in men that used more than one type of muscle-building supplement. These men were found to have a 177 percent higher risk of developing this cancer than men who did not use these types of supplements.
Muscle-building supplements implicated in this research included, but was not limited to, androstenedione and creatine.
Tongzhang Zheng, the leader of the study, stated, “The observed relationship was strong. If you used at earlier age, you had a higher risk. If you used them longer, you had a higher risk. If you used multiple types, you had a higher risk.”
On the results of the study overall, the study authors wrote, “MBS [muscle-building supplement] use is a potentially modifiable risk factor that may be associated with TGCC [testicular germ cell cancer].”
The key words to take from this conclusion are “potentially modifiable.” While more research needs to be done to strengthen the connection between muscle-building supplements and testicular cancer, why play Russian roulette and put yourself at risk? Especially when there are plenty of ways to build muscle and gain strength naturally!
Building muscle in a natural and healthy way depends largely on regularly performing both cardiovascular and strength exercise, and eating a healthy diet filled with whole foods, including good carbs (such as are found in vegetables, fruits, and gluten-free grains), healthy fats (such as from grass-fed meats, coconut oil, and olive oil), and especially protein.
Some great sources of protein include grass-fed meats, organic cheeses, legumes, nuts, beans, seeds, and bee pollen. If you want to give your pre-workout smoothie an extra boost, ditch the processed stuff, and check out our recipes for completely natural, homemade protein powders.
As far as the muscle-building supplements? We’d say they’re simply not worth the risk.