According to a new study, popular commercial dietary supplements such as nicotinamide riboside (NR), a type of vitamin B3, may raise the risk of serious diseases, including cancer.
As per The Indian Express, high levels of NR were found to not only raise the likelihood of getting triple-negative breast cancer but also cause the cancer to travel to the brain, according to the study.
Triple-negative breast cancer is more aggressive than other types of cancer because it grows rapidly, is more likely to have spread by the time it is discovered, and is more likely to return after therapy.
“Once the cancer reaches the brain, the consequences could be fatal as there are currently no viable therapeutic options,” said Elena Goun, the primary author of the study published in Biosensors and Bioelectronics.
“Some individuals take them (vitamins and supplements) because they instantly assume they have only positive health advantages, but very little is known about how they truly function,” Goun added.
“Due to this dearth of knowledge, we were motivated to investigate the fundamental questions surrounding how vitamins and supplements function in the body,” Goun explained.
Goun was inspired by her father’s death, which occurred only three months after he was diagnosed with colon cancer and aged 59, to pursue a better scientific knowledge of cancer metabolism, or the energy by which cancer spreads in the body.
Goun sought to examine the role of NR in the development and spread of cancer because NR is a known supplement for boosting cellular energy levels and cancer cells feed off of this energy due to their heightened metabolism.
“Our work is especially significant considering the widespread commercial availability and vast number of active human clinical trials in which NR is used to lessen the negative effects of cancer therapy in patients,” said Goun.
Using this method, the researchers compared and analyzed the levels of NR in cancer cells, T cells, and healthy tissues.
“While NR is already widely utilized in humans and is being examined in so many ongoing clinical trials for potential uses, a significant portion of its mechanism of action is a black box; it is not understood,” Goun added.
“This prompted us to develop a unique imaging approach based on ultrasensitive bioluminescent imaging that permits noninvasive real-time assessment of NR levels. Light indicates the presence of NR; the brighter the light, the more NR is present. The findings of the study, according to Dr. Goun, emphasize the need for thorough investigations of potential adverse effects of dietary supplements like NR before to its usage by individuals with a variety of health issues.
In the future, Dr. Goun would like to provide knowledge that could potentially lead to the development of particular inhibitors to improve the efficacy of cancer medicines such as chemotherapy.
The key to this strategy, according to Goun, is to view it through the lens of personalized medicine. “Not all malignancies are the same in every individual, especially in terms of metabolic markers,” said Goun. Frequently, tumors might alter their metabolism prior to or after chemotherapy.