Muscle-building diet supplements may elevate the risk of developing testicular cancer. A new study has discovered a relationship between those pills and powders having creatine or androstenedione and a higher risk of the disease – by up to 65 per cent. Men who began consuming the supplements before the age of 25, or consumed more than one type and made use of them for three years or more, were most likely to be diagnosed with cancer.

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Professor Tongzhang Zheng, who spearheaded the study prior to joining Brown University, said: ‘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.’

The researchers were forced to probe the probable link after past evidence showing some supplement ingredients damage the testes. There was an upsurge in incidence of testicular cancer to 5.9 cases per 100,000 men in 2011, compared to 3.7 cases in 100,000 in 1975, Professor Zheng said. However, scientists are skeptical about as to what is behind the increase. Professor Zheng, said: ‘Testicular cancer is a very mysterious cancer,’ he said. ‘None of the factors we’ve suspected can explain the increase.’ Professor Russ Hauser, of the Harvard school of public health who collaborated in the study opined: ‘Our study found that supplement use was related to a higher risk of developing testicular cancer. ‘These results are important because there are few identified modifiable risk factors for testicular cancer.’

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Researchers carried out detailed interviews of around 900 men from Massachusetts and Connecticut. Of those almost 900, 356 had been detected with testicular germ cell cancer, and 513 had not. During the interviews scientists quizzed the men about their supplement use, and also about a wide variety of other risk factors, including smoking, drinking, exercise habits, family history and prior injuries to their testes or groin. Apart from these factors, researchers also took into account age, race, and demographics.

Men who used muscle-building diet supplements were at 65 per cent greater risk of developing testicular cancer.

Researchers defined ‘use’ as intake of one or more muscle-building diet supplements not less than once a week for four or more weeks in a row. The likelihood jumped to a 177 per cent greater chance among men who used more than one type of supplement. The study concluded that men who consumed muscle-building supplements for three years or longer had a, 2.56 times higher risk of getting cancer compared to men who refrained from taking these supplements.
The risk was 2.21 times higher in those who started consuming supplements at the age of 25 or younger compared to non-users. ‘Considering the magnitude of the association and the observed dose-response trends, muscle-building supplements use may be an important and modifiable exposure that could have important scientific and clinical importance for preventing testicular germ cell cancer development if this association is confirmed by future studies, the study’s authors concluded. They called for more research to establish a causal link between supplements and testicular cancer. The study was published in the British Journal of Cancer.