October 1, 2023


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Healthy Muscle-building Supplements You’re Taking May Be Damaging Your DNA

4 min read

Are Muscle-building Supplements Good For You? Study Says That People Who Take This Type of Protein Supplement Have Elevated DNA Damage.

The recent research undertaken and released in Nutrition analyzed the potential link between supplements designed for muscle growth and damage to deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) in individuals participating in strength training routines.

Strength training plays a vital role in augmenting muscle power, stamina, and robustness, and has garnered popularity among those who participate in leisure sports. The percentage of such sports enthusiasts turning to nutritional supplements to boost performance and improve body structure has been on the rise. These muscle-boosting supplements are broadly categorized into three groups depending on the substantiation of their safety and effectiveness.

These categories comprise supplements with robust (SESEAS), moderate or inconsistent (LMESE), or scant or non-existent (LNESES) data backing their safety and usefulness. Only a small number of studies have delved into the relationship between sports supplements and genotoxicity. DNA damage is a prospective marker of genotoxicity for evaluating health hazards.

In the study at hand, the investigators sought to uncover potential connections between the usage of muscle-building supplements and DNA damage in individuals participating in strength training. This population-based research was conducted with individuals aged between 18 and 60 who regularly participated in strength training, spread across 14 fitness centers in Santa Cruz do Sul, Brazil.

Participants were not included in the study if they were unable to provide complete data or were unwilling to offer biological samples. Each participant filled out a self-reporting survey that collected information about their sociodemographics, training practices, and lifestyle. Metrics such as body fat percentage and body mass index were evaluated.

Collections of oral mucosal and blood samples were carried out. Supplements used by participants were classified into one of three predefined categories based on evidence. To determine DNA damage, comet and buccal micronucleus cytome (BMCyt) assays were employed. Lymphocytes were separated from whole-blood samples and two cell slides per participant were made and examined under a microscope.

The extent of DNA damage was determined by observing the size and intensity of the tails. Prepared slides were stained using Feulgen, and cells were inspected for the presence of nuclear buds (a biomarker for the expulsion of amplified or unresolved DNA) and micronuclei (a biomarker for chromosomal missegregation or fragmentation). The participants were then divided into two categories: supplement users and non-users.

To compare categorical and continuous variables among groups, Pearson’s chi-squared test and analysis of variance (ANOVA) were utilized, respectively. Analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) was conducted post adjustments for sex, age, smoking or alcohol usage, body fat percentage, type of exercise, and exercise duration and frequency.

The study population consisted of 307 individuals, predominantly male (52%), with a mean age of 37.9. Out of these, 150 did not consume supplements. The SESEAS category of supplements was the most commonly used among participants. Supplement usage was more prevalent among males and individuals younger than 40. Notable differences were observed in the type, duration, and frequency of exercises between the groups.

A majority of the participants engaged in various exercises, with those consuming LNESES or LMESE supplements typically exercising for over an hour five to seven times a week. Similarly, individuals using SESEAS supplements generally exercised for an hour up to seven times per week. Notably, those who did not use supplements had a significantly higher body fat percentage compared to supplement users.

The comet assay indicated a considerable increase in the DNA damage index and frequency among supplement users compared to non-users. However, there were no significant differences observed in the frequency of nuclear buds and micronuclei among the groups with elevated DNA damage. Notably, individuals using SESEAS supplements exhibited a significantly higher DNA damage index and frequency compared to those using LMESE or LNESES supplements.

In conclusion, individuals engaged in resistance training and consuming muscle-building supplements displayed an increased DNA damage index and frequency, as indicated by the comet assay. Particularly, those using SESEAS supplements showed significantly higher levels of DNA damage. However, there were no significant differences in the frequencies of micronuclei and nuclear buds among the different groups.

These results imply a potential association between the use of supplements and genotoxic effects, underscoring the importance of employing supplements judiciously and as a supplementary part of the diet. The participants primarily consumed whey protein and creatine supplements, which fall under the SESEAS category. It’s worth noting that previous research has demonstrated the antioxidant properties of creatine and whey protein supplements.

There were no noticeable differences in the nuclear buds or micronuclei between supplement users and non-users. This suggests that even though DNA lesions were present, they underwent repair, thereby averting chromosomal damage. The substantial DNA damage that was detected among the users through the comet assay was not mirrored in the BMCyt assay. This indicates that the damage was likely repaired, potentially due to the presence of DNA repair agents and antioxidant cofactors found in creatine and whey protein supplements.

As a result, it is possible that these kinds of supplements do not induce chromosomal instability. Moreover, engaging in regular exercise may lead to reduced oxidative stress, which in turn can facilitate enhanced DNA damage repair.

In summary, the study’s findings propose that supplements aimed at muscle building are safe and are not linked to irreversible DNA damage.

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