Though longevity supplements have become increasingly popular in recent years, they haven't been exempt from criticism. Most negative headlines about these supplements stem from a single paper concluding that NR supplementation increases cancer prevalence and metastases of Triple-negative Breast Cancer (TNBC) to the brain.
Basically, this means NR supplements could potentially raise the risk of cancer and the spread of Triple-negative Breast Cancer to the brain, but this study has some major red flags when it comes to assessing how NMN might impact our health (explained later in the article). NR and NMN (the two precursors to NAD, a molecule naturally present in cells that promote energy production and overall longevity) are technically different molecules (NR enters cells directly; NMN does not).
One of the study's authors, Carles Cantó, made a statement about how news articles are promoting this misinformation with sensational headlines claiming that longevity supplements cause cancer and how they are nothing but clickbait to get more views.
In this article, we'll further debunk the claim that NMN causes cancer with solid proof to the contrary and share where the confusion has come from. Read on to deepen your understanding of NMN so you can make an informed decision that's best for your health and your personal situation.
What’s Good for Normal Cells is Also Good for Cancer Cells
To cut to the chase, NMN doesn’t induce cancer development.
But, in cases where cancer is already present, NMN could potentially expedite cancer growth. This also goes for other essential substances needed for normal cell function, like B vitamins, zinc, iron, glucose, amino acids found in proteins, etc. All of these substances - including NMN - need to be carefully considered when Cancer is present.
An Example of How Normal Cell Nourishment Fuels Cancer, Too
Consider folate, a crucial B vitamin required for building DNA and essential for healthy cells. Interestingly, cancer cells require even greater amounts of folate. So, folate might potentially promote cancer growth in individuals with cancer.
But here’s the kicker, folate intake can lower the risk of developing cancer in the first place.
Insufficient folate in healthy cells can lead to improper DNA synthesis and maintenance, increasing the risk of DNA mutations and cancer. Simply put, folate reduces cancer risk, though it could accelerate its growth in cases where cancer is already present.
Similarly, many other beneficial substances required for proper cell function and cancer prevention could, in theory, also contribute to increased cancer growth when cancer is already there. This includes various B vitamins, iron, zinc, and other essential nutrients.
Given the goal of preventing cancer in the first place, we should effectively utilise dietary choices, supplements, and other measures to minimise our cancer risk.
Key Takeaway: NMN doesn't cause cancer but might speed up its growth in existing cancer cases (and there's no solid proof of that, too). It's similar to how essential nutrients like folate can fuel cancer growth in cancer patients but reduce the risk in healthy individuals.
The NMN Cancer Conversation
The argument mentioned above also applies to NMN. It's a precursor to something super important called NAD+, which is essential for cell function. It determines how cells respond to stressful events, and more importantly, it's critical for repairing damage to your DNA.
That means it can potentially prevent cancer, as mutations in the DNA (plus the epigenome) cause cancer. But cancer cells could theoretically use the NMN, resulting in accelerated growth for someone with cancer. However, even that has yet to be established.
Does NMN Accelerate Cancer Growth?
The impact of NMN on cancer growth in humans remains a debatable topic. Certain papers propose the potential of NMN to accelerate the growth of cancerous cells. But these studies are often executed under highly unnatural conditions.
For instance, in the study supporting the claim that these supplements accelerate cancer growth, scientists manufactured highly aggressive breast cancer cells and directly injected them into 19 separate mice.
That in itself is a massive red flag. Normal mice and humans don't just have highly aggressive breast cancer cells injected directly into them. Instead, cancer develops through a series of mutations in the cells that cause uncontrolled growth in humans. The highly aggressive breast cancer cells were injected directly into the hearts of the mice, and it was through this experiment that they could see an increase in brain metastases in them.
Once again, normal mice and humans don't have breast cancer cells directly injected into their hearts. On the flip side, another study presents a different perspective, suggesting that NMN does not promote cancer growth when administered to mice with existing cancer. So NMN could lower the risk of cancer and not worsen its growth in individuals already affected.
Key Takeaways: Studies using extremely unnatural conditions show possible acceleration in cancer cells. On the other hand, another study shows NMN doesn’t promote cancer growth in mice with existing cancer. So getting to the crux of it, NMN could reduce cancer risk and not worsen its growth in affected individuals.
NMN To Make Cancer Therapy More Effective
NMN's potential extends beyond its usual applications; it could boost cancer immunotherapies results. A promising recent study suggests that NMN can sensitize tumors to the effects of immunotherapy, potentially amplifying its overall effectiveness.
Immunotherapy activates the body's immune system to target and combat cancer cells. The study shows that mice with cancer receiving NMN as part of the treatment do not show an increase in tumour volume compared to control mice without NMN.
Description: Mice given NMN (shown by the blue line) did not experience more tumor growth than those that did not receive NMN (shown by the black line).
This intriguing finding strongly indicates that NMN does not accelerate tumour growth. NAD+ is a molecule in our body that affects how tumours hide from the immune system. The crux of this study is that Boosting NAD+ can make cancer treatment more effective by stopping this hiding process.
In a separate yet equally promising study, researchers found that nicotinamide, a molecule similar to NMN that, like NMN, also elevates NAD+ levels, improving cancer immunotherapy outcomes. The research showed substantial improvements in the effectiveness of immunotherapy as a cancer treatment, and that resulted in a significantly higher number of survivor mice.
This dual advantage of NMN points to its potential as a valuable addition to the arsenal of cancer-fighting strategies, totally debunking the claim that NMN causes cancer.
Key Takeaway: NMN may help improve cancer treatment by making immunotherapy more effective without causing cancer growth, providing hope for better outcomes in fighting cancer.
Longevity Studies in Mice
NMN supplementation gains further validation through decades of longevity research, affirming its safety for consumption and its lack of negative associations with cancer. An insightful study conducted on mice showed many beneficial effects of NMN supplementation.
The results revealed remarkable outcomes, including the suppression of weight gain, enhanced vision, improved mitochondrial function, optimised insulin cycles, increased physical activity, and the restoration of muscle mass, among other positive effects.
Key Takeaway: Based on study results, NMN supplementation shows promise for longevity and health benefits, including improved vision, weight control, energy, insulin regulation, activity, and muscle restoration.
NMN To Reduce The Risk of Cancer
The ability of NMN to reduce DNA mutations, as supported by various studies, is truly fascinating. These studies show NMN supplementation reduces DNA damage in human fibroblasts, cells contributing to the formation of connective tissue.
NMN also irradiates white blood cells. Also, it makes crucial organs, like the kidneys, less susceptible to acute injury. This means that NMN helps reduce DNA mutations as you age.
As DNA mutations are the most common cause of cancer development, NMN's ability to mitigate DNA damage reduces the risk of cancer formation. NMN's impact on cancer prevention doesn't end there—it enhances the function of cancer-fighting immune cells.
Researchers observed that oral administration of NMN to mice led to a significant increase in the functionality of Natural Killer (NK) cells.
NK cells identify and eliminate cancer cells, making them essential players in the body's defence against cancer. With such promising evidence indicating NMN's potential to both minimise DNA mutations and support the activity of cancer-fighting immune cells, it's safe to say that NMN doesn't appear to cause cancer. Instead, it helps prevent it from happening in the first place.
Key Takeaway: NMN has impressive abilities to reduce DNA damage, decreasing cancer risk. Plus, it strengthens immune cells that fight against cancer cells. That shows its potential for cancer prevention.
The Final Verdict
Research consistently points to NMN as a molecule that does not cause cancer; instead, it can potentially reduce cancer risk through various mechanisms. It's well known for its ability to reduce DNA mutations and enhance the function of immune cells, which are involved in targeting and eliminating cancer cells.
Plus, NMN improves the effectiveness of cancer therapies, particularly immunotherapy, making it a valuable asset in the ongoing battle against cancer. NMN could actually reduce the risk of getting it, as well as providing the body with many health benefits. So exercise caution when deriving conclusions from loose-end studies.
The ultimate objective in the fight against cancer is prevention and pursuing a long and healthy life. NMN's unique properties and potential make it incredibly intriguing in this context.
Explore some of AgeMate’s NMN products that have been carefully formulated to enhance longevity, and learn how they can support your energy, metabolism, cognitive function, and more.