A common supplement based on nicotinamide riboside, a form of vitamin B3, and easily available on the market seems to increase the risk of developing aggressive and resistant tumors with metastases. This is what emerges from a very recent and very important scientific research soon to be published in the journal Biosensors and Bioelectronics and developed thanks to the collaboration between an American team from the University of Missouri and a Swiss team from the University of Lausanne (Maric et al, Biosensors and Bioelectronics, Jan 2023).
Supplements, lights and shadows
The advice of experts is always to get nutrients through a healthy and varied diet. However, sometimes it is important to resort to supplements. For example, when our doctor detects a lack of a particular vitamin or mineral salt, or when we are facing a very stressful period or are recovering. Supplements can help us strengthen our defenses but also counteract the aging process. However, you should always pay attention, be informed about the latest scientific news and avoid DIY, relying on the advice of your trusted doctor. In fact, sometimes supplements can even prove harmful. Just think of when vitamins or mineral salts are taken without an actual deficiency or when excessive treatments are followed for long periods of time. Sometimes, however, science discovers possible side effects of some supplements that were not known. As is the case with nicotinamide riboside supplements. These supplements are easily found on the market and are described as essential support for replenishing energy to cells, increasing their vitality, repairing DNA damage, improving physical performance but also protecting the heart and brain. But, as we will see, the implications can be very serious.
Known supplement increases the risk of cancer, the study
Scientists started from the assumption that cancer cells have an accelerated metabolism, which requires energy, and that nicotinamide riboside-based supplements increase the cells' energy. The researchers then wondered whether a supplement described as beneficial could actually support tumor growth and proliferation. Thanks to innovative imaging techniques and laboratory tests on a population of mice, the researchers were able to observe that this substance, once supplied to the body, nourishes cancer cells, even in the most resistant forms to treatments, increasing their progression. Not only that, nicotinamide riboside increases the likelihood that the tumor will metastasize to the brain, a condition for which there is currently no cure.
The study is still in its infancy but is very promising because it allows us to analyze the metabolism of tumor cells and how this can vary on the basis of external stimuli, in this case the intake of a supplement based on nicotinamide riboside, a form of vitamin B3. Much work still remains to be done, but, of course, we now know that the world of supplements is delicate and that these substances are no less powerful just because we can buy them freely without a prescription. It is therefore important to follow a varied and balanced diet, ensure nutrients from food and resort to supplements only when really needed and on the advice of your doctor.