This shows a brain.
The researchers used this technology to compare and examine how much NR levels were present in cancer cells, T cells and healthy tissues. Credit: Neuroscience News

Popular Dietary Supplement Causes Cancer Risk and Brain Metastasis

*Update* The commercial dietary supplement nicotinamide riboside, touted to improve cardiovascular and neurological health, may actually increase the risk of developing breast cancer that metastasizes to the brain.

Summary: Researchers suggest that the popular commercial dietary supplement nicotinamide riboside (NR), a form of vitamin B3, might raise the risk of serious diseases, including cancer.

The study found that high levels of NR could increase the risk of developing triple-negative breast cancer and its metastasis to the brain. Using a novel imaging technique based on ultrasensitive bioluminescent imaging, the team studied the presence of NR in cancer cells, T cells, and healthy tissues.

The researchers hope the findings will aid in developing inhibitors that could enhance the efficacy of cancer therapies.

Key Facts:

  1. Nicotinamide riboside (NR), a dietary supplement, could potentially increase the risk of developing triple-negative breast cancer and cause it to spread to the brain.
  2. A novel imaging technique based on ultrasensitive bioluminescent imaging was used to measure the levels of NR in cancer cells, T cells, and healthy tissues.
  3. The study underscores the necessity of investigating potential side effects of supplements like NR, particularly for people with varying health conditions.

Source: University of Missouri

While previous studies have linked commercial dietary supplements like nicotinamide riboside (NR), a form of vitamin B3, to benefits related to cardiovascular, metabolic and neurological health, new research from the University of Missouri has found NR could actually increase the risk of serious disease, including developing cancer.

The international team of researchers led by Elena Goun, an associate professor of chemistry at MU, discovered high levels of NR could not only increase someone’s risk of developing triple-negative breast cancer, but also could cause the cancer to metastasize or spread to the brain.

Credit: Neuroscience News

Once the cancer reaches the brain, the results are deadly because no viable treatment options exist at this time, said Goun, who is the corresponding author on the study.

“Some people take them [vitamins and supplements] because they automatically assume that vitamins and supplements only have positive health benefits, but very little is known about how they actually work,” Goun said. “Because of this lack of knowledge, we were inspired to study the basic questions surrounding how vitamins and supplements work in the body.”

Following the death of her 59-year-old father only three months after being diagnosed with colon cancer, Goun was moved by her father’s passing to pursue a better scientific understanding of cancer metabolism, or the energy through which cancer spreads in the body.

Since NR is a known supplement for helping increase levels of cellular energy, and cancer cells feed off of that energy with their increased metabolism, Goun wanted to investigate NR’s role in the development and spread of cancer.

“Our work is especially important given the wide commercial availability and a large number of ongoing human clinical trials where NR is used to mitigate the side effects of cancer therapy in patients,” Goun said.

The researchers used this technology to compare and examine how much NR levels were present in cancer cells, T cells and healthy tissues.

“While NR is already being widely used in people and is being investigated in so many ongoing clinical trials for additional applications, much of how NR works is a black box—it’s not understood,” Goun said.

“So that inspired us to come up with this novel imaging technique based on ultrasensitive bioluminescent imaging that allows quantification of NR levels in real time in a non-invasive manner. The presence of NR is shown with light, and the brighter the light is, the more NR is present.”

Goun said the findings of the study emphasize the importance of having careful investigations of potential side effects for supplements like NR prior to their use in people who may have different types of health conditions.

In the future, Goun would like to provide information that could potentially lead to the development of certain inhibitors to help make cancer therapies like chemotherapy more effective in treating cancer. The key to this approach, Goun said, is to look at it from a personalized medicine standpoint.

“Not all cancers are the same in every person, especially from the standpoint of metabolic signatures,” Goun said. “Often times cancers can even change their metabolism before or after chemotherapy.”

About this cancer research news

Author: Eric Stann
Source: University of Missouri
Contact: Eric Stann – University of Missouri
Image: The image is in the public domain

Original Research: Closed access.
A bioluminescent-based probe for in vivo non-invasive monitoring of nicotinamide riboside uptake reveals a link between metastasis and NAD+ metabolism” by Tamara Maric et al. Biosensors and Bioelectronics


A bioluminescent-based probe for in vivo non-invasive monitoring of nicotinamide riboside uptake reveals a link between metastasis and NAD+ metabolism

Nicotinamide riboside (NR) is a form of vitamin B3 and is one of the most studied compounds for the restoration of cellular NAD+ levels demonstrating clinical potential in many metabolic and age-related disorders.

Despite its wide commercial availability as a powerful nutraceutical, our understanding of NR uptake by different cells and tissues is greatly limited by the lack of noninvasive in vivo imaging tools limiting its clinical translation.

Here, we report the development and validation of a bioluminescent NR uptake probe (BiNR) for non-invasive longitudinal imaging of NR uptake both in vitro and in vivo. In addition, we optimized an assay that allows monitoring of NR flux without the need to transfect cells with the luciferase gene, enabling the use of the BiNR probe in clinical samples, as demonstrated with human T cells.

Lastly, we used BiNR to investigate the role of NR uptake in cancer prevalence and metastases formation in triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) animal model.

Our results demonstrate that NR supplementation results in a significant increase in cancer prevalence and metastases of TNBC to the brain.

These results outline the important role of powerful nutraceuticals like NR in cancer metabolism and the need to personalize their use in certain patient populations.

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  1. Clickbait…totally inaccurate and should be removed immediately according to Carles Canto, one of the researchers on the study. Eric Stann, the MU rep who wrote the press report, is a PR guy…not a scientist.

  2. Just stop eating carbs, seed oils, exercise, and implement intermittent fasting as well as waterfasting into your life and cancer risk will be near zero. If you eat typical garbage diets filled with carbs, seed oils and other ultraprocessed nonsense, nothing will save you.

    The issue is as usual that ppl try to implement good habits to fix their bad habits instead of getting rid of the bad habits first. In biochemistry negative factors are usually far more potent than positive factors. Aka It is always easier to cause dmg to a tissue than heal it. It is like cleaning up while a vulcano is still erupting.

  3. My battle with Breast cancer started 4 years ago, after so many Chemo, Radiation and other natural therapy treatments that I took just to cure my Breast cancer, it all did not work for my condition. I was treating this disease for almost 4 year, I was cured with World Rehabilitate Clinic formula. This is medication that totally kills cancer cells. They also have a cure for hysterectomy issues, Alzheimer’s Disease and more other chronic diseases. Contact ( worldrehabilitateclinic. com

  4. I’d like to know if niacinamide is the same as nicotinemide which supposedly it is but has a dif molecular structure, so does niacinamide also cause cancer???

  5. Ever do articles on all the pharmaceuticals that put cancerous warnings on their labels? Interesting that you would Target a supplement when there are probably millions of prescriptions out there that cause cancer and worse

  6. Another thing that gives energy to metastasizing cancer is blood. Should we now characterize blood as increasing risk of cancer? That is the logic of the above article’s conclusion. This concurs with the above comment. Nicotinamide Riboside increases NAD+, and most would agree the NAD+ is very good. The extent to which NAD+ and its precursors fuel cancer is not so good. We should not throw out the baby with the bath water.

    1. Now Hold On There Seems O2 Might Play A Leading Oxygenation Role In Extension Of This Transference Of Bio-Mass To The Brain.
      More Work Needs To Be Done To Nail This Down But We Need More Funds To Do That. I Wonder Who Supported This Project?

  7. Whenever I see artless like this, I can’t help but think that big pharma is so afraid of organic low cost anti-aging, anti-cancer treatments interfering with their ability to profit, that they’ll go to extensive lengths to deter or prohibit us from accessing them. Demonizing vitamins now? We all deserve CURES and since big pharma’s shareholders can’t deliver then it’s time for them to be removed from the government teat. All things medical should be not for profit organizations to deter and prohibit profit mongers from destroying health any further than they already have.

  8. So, the somewhat increased cancer risk is valid. Apparently one of the reasons that the body reduces NAD+ availability is to manage inflammation and cancer risk.

    I personally still use NR.

    But it’s the kind of thing where potentially you need multiple tools to help manage risks with the body.

    Like maybe killing senescent cells to reduce related inflammation. And adding TMG to maintain availability of methyl groups.

    … We really need more research and a way to leverage multiple interventions to really improve people’s lives.

  9. Of course, cancer is more metabolically active. That does not mean that NR causes cancer. This is a complete stretch. One has to at least show that the people taking NR have a higher rate of cancer.
    And consider that younger people are more metabolically active but get cancer less. Metabolically active is not a bad thing. It also means defenses are likely more active.
    I also think that if NR caused more cancer, we would see that in rodent experiments, as they are far more prone to cancer.

  10. Don’t stop taking vitamins! Cancer cells also use fat and suger from your diet. By this person logiv we should avoid fat and suger… this finding is akin to Bananas and coffee “causing” cancer. Much more evidence for NR benefits than these unusual findings meant to scare people and not help. . .

    Matthew S Yorek
    Research associate u of iowa

    1. The fact (belief) that NR has value does not alter the data that appears to say it is a potential cancer issue.

      At no point in this article did I see the authors say stop taking vitamins.

      The approval process to sell vitamin and mineral supplements has a broken logic train in using ‘similar’ or ‘related’ studies as a basis for approval.

      If you need to be a hater for no reason, target the approval process, not what received approval.

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