A new study found that chromium is partially converted into a carcinogenic form when it enters cells (File photo) The mineral is primarily found in two forms. Chromium Picolinate Cancer. Indeed, when Vincent added "physiologically relevant concentrations" of chromium picolinate to laboratory solutions of DNA, much of the DNA was broken, he said. A nonprofit organization with a membership of nearly 159,000 chemists and chemical engineers, the American Chemical Society publishes scientific journals and databases, convenes major research conferences, and provides educational, science policy and career programs in chemistry. These obese individuals were given about 1000 μg/day of chromium picolinate for 12 – 16 weeks. "Careful investigation into the effects of long-term diet supplementation with chromium picolinate are needed to evaluate its mutagenic and carcinogenic potentials. Chromium is poorly absorbed following oral administration, but salt forms such as chromium picolinate, niacin-bound chromium, and chromium chloride, appear to have better bioavailability. In her study, Stearns exposed live hamster ovary cells to high dosages chromium picolinate and found a high incidence of mutated cells. "Chromium picolinate has been shown completely safe," says James Komorowski, MS, director of research and development at Nutrition 21 in Purchase, N.Y. The Alabama studies advance the work of the late Dartmouth University chemist Karen Wetterhahn, Ph.D., who died from a widely publicized mercury-poisoning accident. The committee also noted two case reports of kidney failure that might have been caused by this supplement and called for further research into its safety. Vincent found that chromium picolinate reacts with common biochemicals, like vitamin C. He says the products "can then catalyze a reaction with oxygen to generate the potent DNA-damaging hydroxyl radical." Dec. 11, 2001 -- A popular nutritional supplement, chromium picolinate, has been touted as a fix for weight loss and muscle growth, a potion to help you lose body fat. Selenium is partially excreted in the urine. "They say her studies are 'extremely questionable.'". ", "I would definitely be concerned about taking this nutritional supplement based on what we've found," concludes Vincent. Furthermore, University of Alabama chemists John B. Vincent, Ph.D., and Stephen A. Woski, Ph.D., say their laboratory has found the compound is remarkably stable and unaffected by water, buffers, or blood serum proteins. "We want to make sure that consumers do not misinterpret this data," he tells WebMD. Content on this website is for information only. Nutrition 21 has conducted "numerous clinical studies involving over 3,000 subjects -- in studies between three months and one year in duration -- and there have been absolutely no side effects," Komorowski tells WebMD. Chromium picolinate has been used in alternative medicine to treat chromium deficiency, as an aid to controlling blood sugar in people with diabetes or prediabetes, to lower cholesterol, and as a weight-loss supplement. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily, its staff, its contributors, or its partners. . Possible Link Between Chromium Picolinate and Cancer The results of a study conducted by the University of Alabama in 1999 point to a link between Chromium Picolinate and cancer. "Popular Diet Supplement May Be A Cancer Risk." Stearns admits that the doses used in her study were higher than one would get from a few pills. Chromium picolinate and weight loss. "We are currently determining the actual type of DNA damage that causes the mutations in order to better understand the relevance of our results to humans who are taking these supplements.". Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio. Chromium picolinate is claimed to reduce body fat and build muscle. Found in vitamins and mineral supplements, Chromium may be necessary for utilization of dietary sugars and carbohydrates by optimizing the effects of insulin. In theory, this might mean chromium picolinate might cause cancer. Given that in vitro studies suggest that other forms of chromium used as nutritional supplements, such as chromium chloride, are unlikely to be susceptible to generating this type of oxidative damage, the use of these compounds, rather than Cr(pic)(3), would appear warranted. Now we find out that the body turns chromium-3 into chromium-6. "There are studies that can be used to determine if a substance is toxic or not, and Nutrition 21 has done those studies, and chromium picolinate has been shown completely safe," he tells WebMD. But Australian researchers at the University of Sydney and the University of New South Wales found that when chromium picolinate enters cells in the body, it is partially converted into a cancer-causing chemical. American Chemical Society. The picolinic form increases Cr absorption from the GI tract, although this remains quite low, around 3%. "Mutations in certain genes may lead to cancer. A safety paper published by the USDA comments on animal cell studies like Stearns,' citing "that one cannot extrapolate from a hamster tissue culture what could happen in humans," says Komorowski. Benefits and Dangers of Chromium Picolinate for Weight Loss There are two schools of thought when it comes to the benefits of chromium picolinate for losing weight. ScienceDaily. Note: Content may be edited for style and length. The investigations show that chromium picolinate resulted in very small amounts of weight loss (about 1.1 kg) after the treatment duration. "Popular Diet Supplement May Be A Cancer Risk." In a 1995 paper she demonstrated that chromium picolinate can get into cells, at least in a lab dish. It is not intended to provide medical or other professional advice. It is used to prevent chromium deficiency, which may develop as a result of poor diet, stress and aging. Chromium picolinate is an organic compound of trivalent chromium and picolinic acid, a naturally occurring derivative of tryptophan. ScienceDaily, 24 March 1999. It is thought that chromium picolinate can help increase muscle mass. American Chemical Society. Renger F. Witkamp, in Comprehensive Natural Products II, 2010. Still, chromium's role in these processes is not well understood. Hexavalent chromium compounds have been used as corrosion inhibitors in a wide variety of products and processes. Glucose tolerance factor chromium, more commonly called chromium GTF, is a mineral that is frequently used in bodybuilding, athletic and weight-loss supplements. "Chromium picolinate has been shown completely safe," says James Komorowski, MS, director of research and development at Nutrition 21 in Purchase, N.Y. … It is called an "essential trace element" because very small amounts of chromium are necessary for human health. Most trials used chromium picolinate, and others used chromium-enriched yeast or chromium nicotinate. New Treatments That May Change the Game, Understanding Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment. However, the jury is still out on how effective this supplement is when used for these purposes. Until now, though, there was no solid explanation for just how chromium picolinate caused the damage. This creates an incredible cancer potential. 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