Magazine article Newsweek

The New Muscle Candy: Experts Wrestle with Questions about Creatine

Magazine article Newsweek

The New Muscle Candy: Experts Wrestle with Questions about Creatine

Article excerpt

Experts wrestle with questions about creatine

AMERICANS ASSUME THAT ANYTHING natural must be safe. That's the buzz about creatine, a muscle-building supplement that's become as common as sweaty towels in gyms across the country. Since it hit stores in 1992, creatine--sold as powder, capsules, candy and even chewing gum--has become a $100 million industry, boosted by endorsements from athletes including Baltimore Orioles outfielder Brady Anderson. Even casual jocks report Schwarzenegger-like growth. Dr. Ray Sahalian, coauthor of "Creatine: Nature's Muscle Builder," says he has bigger muscles at 40 than he did when he was 20--and he lifts weights only 15 minutes a day. "It's miraculous," Sahelian says.

But like so many dietary miracles, creatine may have a serious downside. Its safety has come under intense scrutiny after the recent deaths of three collegiate wrestlers. The FDA, the Centers for Disease Control and the NCAA are investigating the athletes' deaths and whether creatine played a role. True, the wrestlers had all been wearing rubber suits while riding stationary bikes. Wrestlers have always done outlandish things to make weight, yet no college wrestler had died in at least 15 years. "What's different?" says Jeff Kovan, director of sports medicine at Michigan State. "The only thing people have seen is, creatine has become a big issue."

The irony for wrestlers is that creatine adds bulk, rather than reducing it. It gives athletes extra power by increasing energy available to the muscles, allowing them to recover more quickly and thus get stronger faster. …

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