Creatine is an amino acid that’s found in all animals, especially in muscle tissue. The primary purpose of creatine is to supply energy to muscle fibers for strong or sustained contractions. Athletes commonly supplement with creatine monohydrate to enhance their strength gains from workouts. However, large daily doses of creatine may lead to increased production of a hormone that’s linked to prostate enlargement. An enlarged prostate may reduce kidney function and lead to increased levels of creatine metabolites in the blood. Consult with your doctor before supplementing with creatine monohydrate.
Creatine is manufactured mainly in your liver and stored in your muscles, although some is also found in your brain and reproductive organs. Creatine is made from other amino acids, which are commonly found in meats, fish and dairy products. Consequently, strict vegetarians have significantly less creatine stored in their muscle tissue than nonvegetarians do, according to the “Encyclopedia of Human Nutrition.” Creatine is converted to energy in response to high-intensity exercise, which allows your muscles to contract with greater force and for longer periods of time. Athletes supplement with creatine monohydrate powder in hopes of increasing their strength and athletic performance. Creatine supplementation is generally regarded as safe, although large daily doses may increase your risk of an enlarged prostate.
The prostate gland produces most of the constituents of semen, but not the sperm cells. It’s located in the middle of the pelvis, close to the lower part of the bladder where the urethra exits. Prostate enlargement is fairly common in men over 50 and is usually benign, although it eventually causes problems with urinating because of its location. Benign prostate hyperplasia, or BPH, is the most common prostate issue in men and is thought to be caused mainly by hormonal changes, according to “Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine.” Overproduction of certain hormones leads to high levels of dihydrotestosterone, or DHT, which is linked to prostate cell growth. Creatine supplementation may increase production of DHT.
Creatine and DHT
Creatine supplementation increases the amount of DHT in the muscles and bloodstream, according to a South African study published in a 2009 edition of the “Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine.” Rugby players were given 25 grams of creatine per day for one week, followed by 5 grams daily for two weeks. At the end of the trial, the researchers noticed that DHT levels increased by 56 percent after one week and remained 40 percent above baseline after two weeks. The scientists noted that more research is needed to determine whether creatine supplementation increases the known side effects of high DHT levels, which are primarily accelerated baldness and prostate enlargement.
An enlarged prostate may also disrupt the genitourinary system by putting pressure on the urethra and causing backflow of urine into the kidneys. Creatinine is the main waste product of creatine, and creatinine levels go up whenever kidney function is disrupted. As such, an enlarged prostate can affect the elimination of the metabolites of creatine. Normal creatinine levels in men range from 0.7 to 1.2 milligrams per deciliter of urine.
- Encyclopedia of Human Nutrition; Benjamin Caballero et al.
- Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine; A. Fauci et al.
- Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine: Three Weeks of Creatine Monohydrate Supplementation Affects Dihydrotestosterone to Testosterone Ratio in College-aged Rugby Players