Supplementation with nicotinamide riboside, a form of vitamin B3, increased the incidence of cancer and brain metastases in laboratory studies.
A form of vitamin B3 known as nicotinamide riboside (NR) and sold as a dietary supplement may increase the risk of cancer and catalyze the formation of deadly brain metastases, according to a new study. This compound has often been “praised” for its potential health benefits, as it can increase cellular energy levels. For example, the “NADPARK trial: a randomized phase I trial of nicotinamide riboside supplementation in Parkinson’s disease,” published in the journal Cell, found that nicotinamide riboside can slow the progression of early Parkinson’s disease and prevent nerve cell death, while another study showed. that the presence of this molecule in muscle tissue may have an anti-inflammatory effect. Many websites that discuss nutritional supplements refer to supposed benefits for longevity, cognition, weight loss, fatigue, and more. All this has made this form of vitamin B3 very popular, which is why it is also regularly sold on e-commerce sites. But is it really safe? Not really, according to new research.
An international research group led by scientists from the Ecole polytechnique fédérale Université de Lausanne (EPFL) and the Department of Chemistry at the University of Missouri (USA), who collaborated closely with colleagues from SwissLumix SARL, Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, University of Lausanne. and the Nestlé Institute of Health Sciences. The researchers, led by American University chemistry professor Elena Goun, decided to analyze the effects of nicotinamide riboside precisely because it promotes increased cellular energy levels. Cancer cells with increased metabolism can use this extra energy, so is it really safe to take NR?
To investigate the link between the dietary supplement and cancer, researchers have developed a new bioluminescence imaging technique (called BiNR) that allows detection of nicotinamide riboside levels both in vitro and in vivo, in real time and non-invasively. For example, concentrations of the compound can be detected in tumor cells, tissues, and T cells. The researchers used this technique to investigate the role of nicotinamide riboside uptake in cancer proliferation and metastasis in a triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) model. ). Very simply, they administered the supplement to mice to test its effects. Professor Goun and his colleagues not only observed that the use of supplements significantly increases the incidence of cancer, but also the formation of metastases in the brain, which cannot be treated.
“Some people take it [vitamine e integratori] because they automatically assume that vitamins and supplements only have health benefits, but very little is known about how they actually work,” Professor Goun said in a press release. This is especially true for nicotinamide riboside, most of whose mechanisms of action are “black box – they are not understood”. Nevertheless, this form of vitamin B3 is routinely used in a variety of clinical situations and, as mentioned, can be purchased online by anyone.
We emphasize that the increased incidence of breast cancer and brain metastases has been observed in murine (mouse) models, so it is not certain that these effects will translate to humans. In fact, it would take several in-depth studies to prove this. However, the study authors say that the results “underscore the important role of potent nutrients such as NR in cancer metabolism,” and further evaluation of the supplement’s use in cancer patients is warranted based on their condition. Details of the study, “Bioluminescence-based probe for non-invasive monitoring of nicotinamide riboside uptake in vivo reveals link between metastasis and NAD+ metabolism,” was published in the scientific journal Biosensors and Bioelectronics.