Chromium supplements linked to cancer

12 January 2016

Clare Pain

chromium supplements may be carcinogenic

Chromium picolinate, a common ingredient in multivitamins and a popular supplement used for diabetes and weight loss, is converted into a well-known carcinogen (cancer-causing substance) in the fat cells of mice, Australian researchers have found.

However, the Sydney researchers say it’s too soon to leap to conclusions about a carcinogenic effect in humans.

Their study shows mouse fat cells immersed in a chromium picolinate solution (which contains chromium III) convert about 60% of the metal into its higher oxidation states chromium V and VI. Chromium VI is a known carcinogen which gained notoriety as a water pollutant in the film Erin Brockovich. The chromium accumulates in hotspots in the fat cells, says Professor Peter Lay of the University of Sydney, who has been researching the metal for 30 years.

“The issue is that chromium accumulates – so the longer you take it the more chromium accumulates and that’s one of the big issues because there have been no long-term human epidemiological studies done on chromium."