Popular vitamin supplement may increase risk of cancer spread

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Vitamin B3, also known by its specific form nicotinamide riboside (NR), is commonly taken as a dietary supplement.

It’s been praised for its potential benefits for the heart, metabolism, and brain health.

However, recent research from the University of Missouri presents a more cautionary tale. This study suggests that NR might actually increase the risk of serious health issues, including cancer.

The focus of this research was on how high levels of NR could affect the development and spread of a particularly aggressive type of cancer known as triple-negative breast cancer.

The findings were alarming: not only could NR increase the risk of developing this cancer, but it could also help the cancer spread to the brain.

Once the cancer reaches the brain, the prognosis is grim, as there are currently no effective treatments for brain metastases from this type of cancer.

The concern arises from the way NR functions. It is known to boost cellular energy levels.

While this can be beneficial for normal cells, cancer cells also thrive on this increased energy, particularly because they have a higher metabolism than normal cells. This property allows them to grow and spread more rapidly.

To understand the effects of NR, the research team studied its levels in various types of cells, including cancer cells, T cells (a type of white blood cell), and healthy tissues.

Their findings underscored the need for careful research into the side effects of supplements like NR, especially before they are recommended for use in people with varying health conditions.

The results of this study could have significant implications for how supplements are viewed in medical contexts.

They suggest that what might be beneficial for one aspect of health could be detrimental in the presence of diseases like cancer. This dual nature highlights the complexity of dietary supplements and the metabolic processes they influence.

Looking ahead, the researchers aim to gather more data that might lead to the development of new treatments. Specifically, they hope to identify inhibitors that could make existing cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, more effective.

The approach they envision is rooted in personalized medicine, a method of tailoring medical treatment to the individual characteristics of each patient.

This concept is particularly relevant in cancer treatment because the metabolic profile of cancer cells can vary significantly between individuals and may even change in response to treatment.

Understanding these metabolic differences is key to developing more effective therapeutic strategies.

The study, led by Elena Goun and her colleagues, was published in the journal Biosensors and Bioelectronics. It serves as a reminder of the complexity of dietary supplements and their potential impact on health.

While NR continues to be studied for its various health benefits, this research suggests a cautious approach, particularly for those at risk of or battling cancer.

If you care about cancer risk, please read studies that exercise may stop cancer in its tracks, and vitamin D can cut cancer death risk.

For more information about cancer, please see recent studies that yogurt and high-fiber diet may cut lung cancer risk, and results showing that new cancer treatment may reawaken the immune system.

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