TAMPA, Florida (WFLA) – A study conducted by researchers at the University of Missouri found that taking a popular vitamin supplement may contribute to brain cancer risk.
The vitamin, called nicotinamide riboside, is a variant of B3. Taking the nutritional pill may increase the risk of breast cancer and brain metastases, according to the studythe results. Metastasis occurs when cancer cells spread throughout the body, causing multiple tumor growths beyond an initial location.
Known for its suggested benefits for 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 that NR can be used to “modulate the aging process and thereby exhibit life-prolonging effects”, according to a previous studyalthough the full effects and process of doing so are still unclear.
However, new research by an international group of scientists and chemists has revealed that high levels of NR may also lead to an increased risk of developing cancer.
According to the University of Missouri’s announcement of the study results, “NR may not only increase the risk of developing triple-negative breast cancer, but may also cause the cancer to metastasize or spread to the brain.”
Elena Goun, an associate professor of chemistry at MU and one of the study’s authors, said that when cancer reaches the brain, the results are deadly because there is no viable treatment available.
“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,” goon said. “Because of this lack of knowledge, we were inspired to investigate the fundamental questions surrounding how vitamins and supplements work in the body.”
The higher risk of metastatic brain cancer was revealed by Goun’s work on the impact of NR on the spread of cancer. Using bioluminescent probes, Goun and the other study authors were able to see how NR affected cancer growth.
Using bioluminescent technology, the researchers were able to examine the presence of NR with light, noting that “the brighter the light, the more NR is present” in certain cell types, including cancer cells.
“While NR is already widely used in humans and has many ongoing clinical trials for additional applications, much of how NR works is a black box – it’s not understood,” Goun said. “So this inspired us to come up with this new imaging technique based on ultrasensitive bioluminescent imaging that allows quantification of NR levels in real time in a non-invasive way.”
According to Goun, the study results show “the importance of having thorough investigations” into the side effects of supplements in people with different health conditions.
A Food and Drug Administration spokesperson told Nexstar that dietary supplements such as nicotinamide riboside fall under a different set of regulations than that covering prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Below existing lawthe FDA must find that the product is adulterated or mislabeled to remove it from the market.
For most people, sufficient levels of niacin, or vitamin B3, are consumed naturally in a wide variety of foods, including beef, fish, poultry, nuts, legumes, grains, rice, etc. . The National Institutes of Health recommend that adult men have 16 mg of niacin per day, on average, with 14 mg recommended for women.
A cup of marinara sauce, or three ounces of chicken breast, for exampleboth carry 10.3 mg of B3, according to the NIH.