What's Good For Bodybuilding May Be Bad for Your Health
Muscular Development|October 2020
We’ve all heard the saying, “Too much of a good thing can be bad.” Well, that may also be true when it comes to certain aspects of the bodybuilding lifestyle.
By Michael J. Rudolph, Ph.D.

We’ve all heard the saying, “Too much of a good thing can be bad.” Well, that may also be true when it comes to certain aspects of the bodybuilding lifestyle. While one could argue whether pounding heavy weights for decades or carrying additional muscle mass may be detrimental to your health, it seems pretty clear that promoting an anabolic state for extensive periods of time that optimizes muscle growth can lead to long-term health problems.

Excessive mTOR Activity and Cancer

Optimal bodybuilding nutrition promotes muscle growth in response to intense strength training by activating the all important energy-sensing molecule mTOR. Upon activation, mTOR increases muscle protein synthesis while reducing muscle protein breakdown – ultimately leading to greater muscle mass. While greater mTOR activity is good for muscle growth, it may not be good for your overall health, as several studies have linked excessive mTOR activity with cancer.

Now, I’m not suggesting that activating mTOR via nutrition or exercise is definitely going to give you cancer. However, the long-term outcome of certain actions, like mTOR activation, may be different than the short term. That said, several mTOR functions have been implicated in cellular processes that could lead to uncontrolled growth of cancer cells. For instance, mTOR controls the cell’s protein synthesis machinery driving the production of proteins1,2 that are essential for cell division. This could produce too much cell division, supporting the progression of certain types of cancers. In addition, many cancer cells rely on glycolysis for energy3 and an activated mTOR increases production of the enzymes necessary for glycolysis, which could also facilitate cancer. Consequently, overactivation of the mTOR pathway represents a key process in the development of cancer.

Inhibiting the Recovery of Muscle Function

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