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Creatine-Cancer Link Unsupported

PARIS--A news story hitting newswires everywhere--including Reuters, Associated Press and ESPN.com--suggests that creatine may cause cancer. However, many scientists are crying foul.

The report, published on the French Agency of Medical Security for Food (AFSSA) Web site, is garnering international attention, even though it cites no studies to back up its allegation. The report, authored by Martin Husch, states that creatine use "constitutes a risk that has not been sufficiently evaluated, particularly in the long term." In conducting a keyword search using "Martin Husch" on PubMed (the largest online search engine for internationally peer-reviewed studies), neither studies--including creatine and cancer--nor reference to him as a researcher were found.

"It's interesting that in one paragraph of the report researchers said there are no long-term studies showing the effects of creatine in regards to safety," said Conrad Earnest, Ph.D., an exercise physiologist for the Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research who read a translated version of the report. "Then, two paragraphs later, the report says that the epidemiological data shows that there is a possible link between cancer and creatine, and epidemiologist is a science of long-term association." He added that since there is no long-term data available, how did the report's author conclude there was a long-term association between cancer and creatine?

"There are four papers in scientific journals that show that creatine analogs will actually inhibit the rate of tumor growth in animal models," Earnest stated. "If anything, creatine may be anti-carcinogenic as opposed to pro-carcinogenic."

And instead of citing studies supporting the alleged carcinogenic effects of creatine supplementation, the AFSSA report cited studies associating creatine with other maladies such as digestive problems.

"There have been issues brought up between creatine and kidney function, but creatine and cancer? This is something shocking and new at the same time," said Carl Germano, senior vice president of research and development at Fairfield, N.J.-based Nutratech Inc. He admitted that he had only read about the report in media accounts and that he had not read the original report. "This [alleged association] is based on a posted paper that is statistically insignificant. Like we needed to know that."

For additional information, visit www.afssa.fr. It should be noted that the report, as well as the entire Web site, is in French.

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