We Can Boost NAD+ Levels by Exercising, Fasting, taking NAD Precursors, and Taking Saunas. Does Doing So Cause Cancer? Or Help Prevent It?

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by Nils Osmar. February 24, 2022 – Medical Disclaimer

NAD+ is essential to the body. It’s associated with DNA repair and some other essential cellular functions.

We have high levels of NAD+ when we’re young. But levels of it decrease as we age. So lots of people (millions, by some accounts) are taking NAD+ boosters (along with some other supplements) hoping to improve the quality of their lives and – perhaps – live a few years or decades longer.

But could increasing NAD+ levels in human beings cause health problems down the road? The truth is that we don’t know. Some researchers raised this concern a few years ago, not (as far as I know) because of evidence that boosting NAD turns healthy cells cancerous, but because some types of cancer have been found to thrive in a high-NAD environment.

This doesn’t mean that raising NAD causes cancer, but that if we already have cancer — not just a few stray cells (which are always in the body, and which are immune systems are equipped to get rid of), but an actively growing tumor — we might want to think twice before raising NAD levels.

This article sums up the rationale behind these worries, and points out that in people battling certain types of cancer, the best treatment may be to lower, not raise, NAD+ levels.

With this said, it’s important (in my opinion) not to confuse agents that may cause cancer (by turning healthy cells cancerous) with compounds that cancers have learned to use to support their growth, which are often the same compounds our bodies depend on for nourishment.

Some cancers do thrive in high-NAD environments, but that doesn’t necessarily make NAD dangerous. The reason some cancers seem to “like” NAD+ may simply be because cancer cells need many of the same nutrients that healthy human cells do. Some cancers thrive in high folic acid environments, or high Vitamin B6 environments too. But that doesn’t mean we should avoid all foods containing B vitamins… though if we had cancer, our doctor might suggest doing so for a while.

There is no proof that I’m aware of that raising the levels of NAD+ triggers the growth of new cancer cells where they don’t already exist. (If anyone is aware of any studies showing that it does, please share a link to them in the comments below.)

An overview

  • Cancer is starting all of the time in the body.  But the body usually “zaps” cancer cells before they can start multiplying. Strong immune systems kill cancer cells.
  • If we already have actively growing tumors (of the sort that thrive in a high NMN environment) growing in our bodies, then doing things that increase NAD+ could well be unwise.
  • If I had a diagnosis of cancer, I would talk to my doctor before doing things that could increase it. But in the absence of a cancer diagnosis, I’m not personally concerned about it.
  • If you’re trying to prevent it and prolong your life, it seems likely that it would be best to keep NAD levels high.
  • Of course new research could turn up connections we’re not aware of yet, but based on the current evidence, speaking only for myself, I feel safe taking NMN, NR and niacin, taking cold showers, fasting, taking saunas, exercising, and doing other things that increase NAD.

How to increase NAD+ in the body

If you want to increase NAD levels, you might think about:

  1. Doing HIIT exercise (high intensity interval training)
  2. Doing resistance training (working out with weights)
  3. Getting seriously out of breath once in a while (creating a temporary oxygen deficit)
  4. Taking hot saunas (or very hot baths)
  5. Taking cold showers (or taking ice baths or walks in the cold)
  6. Fasting (intermittent or prolonged) (or doing fasting mimicking diets)
  7. Walking and jogging
  8. Taking NAD precursors
  9. Eating parsley and celery and drinking chamomile tea (sources of apigenin)

All of the above interventions increase NAD levels. If boosting NAD causes cancer, we would expect cancer rates to be higher in people who do all of these things. But most or all of them appear to lower cancer. (People who do fasting or saunas actually seem less likely to get cancer than those who don’t.)

So – again – I personally feel safe trying to restore my levels to what they were when I was a young adult.

Not medical advice

This article is not intended as, and should not be taken as, medical advice. I’m not advising that people eat any particular diet or take any particular supplements, just reporting on what I’m doing. All supplements can have side effects; I would encourage people to research both possible benefits and side effects before starting on any supplementation regimen.  See full Medical Disclaimer

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Photo credit: Image by Konstantin Kolosov from Pixabay

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