New research suggests that young adults who use creatine as a performance enhancement substance may face a higher risk of struggling with alcohol addiction and alcohol abuse later in life.
In a new study published in this month’s issue of Pediatrics, researchers from the U.S>, Australia and Canada warn that the use of performance enhancement substances, such as creatine monohydrate or protein powders, may be a gateway to increased alcohol-related risk factors, especially among men.
Researchers examined data collected by the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, which included 12,133 young adult respondents between 18 to 26 years of age. They used logistic regression to assess adolescent substance abuse and the use of legal performance enhancement substances (PES).
Most PES products contain an amino acid called creatine, which is naturally located in the body’s muscles and brain and generally considered safe. The amino acid is popular among competitors and athletes due to creatines production of ATP, which is the body’s cells most basic form of energy. The production of energy is used to boost and improve high intensity exercise and improve strength and muscle gain.
Although creatine is organic, the synthetic forms of creatine used in PES products are said to be safe for consumption for up to five years. Research has suggested that the use of creatine for over this period of time can result in a variety of unsafe side effects including damage to the liver, kidney and heart.
While research indicating that side effects of creatine could be damaging to the body and its organs, there is a lack of scientific evidence on how creatine and other PES chemicals may effect social behavior and emotional behaviors.
According to the findings of this latest study, 16.1% of young men and 1.2% of young women reported using legal performance enhancing substances within the last year. Of those, young men faced higher odds of problematic alcohol use and drinking-related risk behaviors. Specifically, researchers indicated young men were more likely to experience five alcohol use problems and risk behaviors in the years following PES use.
The alcohol related risk factors associated with the performance enhancers included binge drinking, alcohol-related injuries, legal problems, continued alcohol use despite emotional or physical health problems, and reduced activities and socialization that interfered with alcohol use.
Currently, performance enhancement and dietary supplements are not regulated by the FDA, which the researchers warn could pose serious risks of long term adverse health effects if manufactured with harmful substances that have not been ruled as safe by federal regulators.
Researchers indicated the information gathered from the study should be used to create regulation of performance enhancement substances, particularly among minors. Doctors and physicians are encouraged to talk with parents and their teenagers about potential long term side effects of alcohol abuse if performance substances are taken at an early age.