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Creatine Linked to Cancer -- January 24, 2001

Jan. 24. A dietary supplement used by athletes, including many swimmers, to increase speed and explosive strength may cause cancer, experts warned today.

The French Agency of Medical Security for Food (AFSSA) issued the warning on its internet site today.

The agency said that the use of creatine "constitutes a risk that has not been sufficiently evaluated, particularly in the long term."

It went on to say that there was a "potential carcinogenic risk" for users.

Creatine, dubbed the legal steroid, has become popular among swimmers and other athletes because it is said to increase power without the side-effects associated with anobolic steroids. It is sold over the counter in many countries, and is not banned by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

The AFSSA report quoted epidemiological studies that showed creatine causing "digestive, muscular and cardiovascular problems."

Calling for creatine to be banned, the AFSSA said its use should be regarded "as contrary to the rules, spirit and significance of sport."

The dietary supplement has been used by many leading athletes, and is used in a large number of the leading college programs in the United States. Previous research has suggested creatine may help to protect against brain damage following a head injury.