Popular ‘anti-aging’ supplement may lead to brain cancer, study says

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A study by researchers at the University of Missouri found that taking a popular vitamin supplement may contribute to brain cancer risks.

The vitamin called nicotinamide riboside is a variation of B3. According to the results of the study, taking nutritional pills may increase the risk of breast cancer and brain metastases. Metastasis is when cancer cells spread throughout the body and cause multiple tumorous growths beyond the initial location.

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Known for its suggested benefits to metabolism, brain health, and cardiovascular systems, nicotinamide riboside, or NR for short, is sometimes referred to as an “anti-aging” vitamin. The National Institute of Health reports NR can be used to “modulate the aging process and thus exhibit life-prolonging effects,” according to a previous study, but the exact effects and process of this are not yet clear.

However, new research by an international group of scientists and chemists has found that high NR levels can also lead to an increased risk of developing cancer.

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According to the University of Missouri’s statement on the results of the study, “NR not only increases a person’s risk of developing triple-negative breast cancer, but can also cause the cancer to metastasize or spread to the brain.”

Elena Goun, associate professor of chemistry at MU and one of the study’s authors, said the results are fatal when cancer reaches the brain because there is no valid treatment available.

“Some people [vitamins and supplements] “Because of this lack of information, we were inspired to examine fundamental questions about how vitamins and supplements work in the body.”

The higher risk of metastatic brain cancer was revealed by Goun’s study investigating the effect of NR on the spread of cancer. Using bioluminescent-based probes, Goun and the study’s other authors were able to see how NR affects cancer growth.

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Using bioluminescence technology, the researchers were able to examine the presence of NR with light, noting that “the brighter the light, the more NR is found” in certain cell types, including cancer cells.

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“While NR is already widely used in humans and is being explored for additional applications in many ongoing clinical trials, much of how NR works is a black box – not understood,” Goun said. “Thus, it inspired us to come up with this new imaging technique based on ultra-sensitive bioluminescent imaging that allows non-invasive measurement of NR levels in real time.”

According to Goun, the study findings show the “importance of careful research” into the side effects of supplements in people with different health conditions.

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A Food and Drug Administration spokesperson told Nexstar that dietary supplements such as nicotinamide riboside are subject to a different set of regulations than those covering prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Under current law, the FDA must find the product to be fraudulent or misbranded to pull it off the market.

For most people, adequate levels of Niacin, or vitamin B3, are consumed naturally through a wide variety of foods, including beef, fish, poultry, nuts, legumes, grains, rice, and more. The National Institutes of Health recommends adult men take an average of 16 mg of Niacin per day, while 14 mg is recommended for women.

According to the NIH, a cup of marinara sauce or three ounces of chicken breast, for example, both carry 10.3 mg of B3.

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