by Nils Osmar. February 4, 2021.
Many people in the anti-aging community are taking supplements such as niacin (nicotinic acid), NR (nicotinamide riboside) or NMN (nicotinamide mononucleotide). All three are NAD precursors, which people are taking in the hopes of restoring their NAD+ to more youthful levels.
Benefits of Boosting NAD
NAD is essential to human health and facilitates DNA repair. We literally would not be alive without it. Like many other essential compounds, its levels are high when we’re young but drop precipitously as we age. Harvard’s Dr. David Sinclair and others have suggested there may be benefits in raising its levels by doing things like exercising, taking cold showers, and taking precursor molecules and other supplements shown to increase levels of NAD in the body.
Concerns about Cancer
But a concern has been raised that raising NAD might be dangerous because some cancers have been found to thrive in a high NAD environment (just as human cells tend to; they use the same pathways). This Scientific American article from a few years ago gave voice to those concerns.
To be clear, the author was not claiming that NAD precursors had ever been shown to cause cancer, but that research should be conducted to clarify their effect on cancer.
In that light, a new study may help to clarify the situation.
No Effect on Lung Cancer
In this 2021 study looking at lung cancer, the authors found that NMN did not prevent the formation of lung cancer or restrain the growth of cancer. (So it should not be considered an anti-cancer compound.) But it also did not promote the growth of tumors (of this type). It seemed to have no effect at all
From the study:
The tumor volume in nude mice has no statistical difference either between the NaCl control group and NMN treatment group.
NMN does not affect the proliferation of tumor cells in mouse subcutaneous tumors.
However, it was found that the mice’s weight was significantly reduced in the NMN treatment group.
Carcinoembryonic antigens (CEA), interleukin-1β (IL-1β), interleukin-6 (IL-6), tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), and stromal cell-derived factor 1 (CXCL-12) have no significant difference between the two groups.
Our findings indicate that NMN does not prevent formation of lung cancer or restrain tumor growth in a mouse xenograft model, nor does it promote tumor growth.
- I take NMN and also sometimes take niacin and NR.
- I’ve often said that if I were to develop cancer, I would talk to my doctor about whether it made sense to continue taking them.
- There’s no evidence that I’m aware of that taking NAD precursors causes cancers to start growing where cancer did not exist. This study suggests that even if we have actively growing tumors, it might be fine to keep taking them. However, one study is never the whole story. More studies are needed to confirm whether this is the case.