Can NMN cause cancer?

Can NMN cause cancer?
As the extraordinary benefits of NMN are reviewed across the globe, many looking to take the supplement are understandably seeking reassurance that taking NMN will not cause any unwanted side effects and is fully safe to take.


The fact NAD boosters, such as NMN, may be helpful in maintaining healthy energy levels and increasing focus as we age, is already widely discussed. Longevity specialist Dr. David Sinclair, Ph.D., a Harvard professor at the forefront of the science exploring anti-ageing, said in a post about NMN, written in connection with his bestselling book Lifespan, “It’s no secret that I take NMN; I’ve been very up front about that”. Unsurprisingly, when the co-director of the Paul F. Glenn Center for the Biology of Aging at Harvard Medical School confirms the anti-ageing secrets he relies on, the world takes notice.


Reassuringly, Sinclair is confident there are no concerns to be had. “Both NR and NMN have been shown to benefit the health of elderly mice, and neither of these treatments show negative health effects, even in long-term mouse experiments - not in inflammation, senescence, or cancer models”, Sinclair adds. Discussing his own experience of taking NMN - combined with yoghurt, resveratrol, and metformin - Sinclair confirmed during a  lengthy Joe Regan interview he himself experiences no concerning side effects. “It’s extremely rare that you get sick from any of these molecules. In millions of patients around the world nobody is getting sick – the worst you’ll have, as far as I can tell, is a stomach upset.”


Internationally, scientists are racing to present trials demonstrating the safety of taking NMN. Last year, researchers at Japan’s Keio University School of Medicine monitored 10 healthy men aged between 40 and 60 years taking NMN, beginning with low dosages, and similarly reported no significant side effects. As reported on ageing website Lifespan, “During the study, the researchers observed various biomarkers, and no significant changes were evident following the single dose of NMN.” Further human trials are also underway.


So why have any concerns at all been raised linking NMN to cancer? A 2013 study published in Cell, revealed the remarkable anti-ageing impact increasing NAD+ levels had on cell tissue in mice. The same study identified intriguing changes relating to a molecule called HIF-1, now considered to be switched on by both the ageing process and some cancers. Explaining this further, Ana Gome, a scientist involved in the study, quoted within a Harvard Medical School news article said, “It's certainly significant to find that a molecule that switches on in many cancers also switches on during aging. We're starting to see now that the physiology of cancer is in certain ways similar to the physiology of aging.” Following on from this, scientists now grilling down into the role NAD+ plays in the health of our cells are unveiling research showing taking NMN may actually help to combat certain cancers.


An NMN news article, published in November 2020, outlined how a study in Shanghai, China, “showed that supplementation with the NAD+ precursor nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN) increased NAD+ levels and improved the effectiveness of a therapeutic option for tumors resistant to immunotherapy, a cancer treatment that helps the immune system fight off tumors.” Additionally, the article highlights “the results indicated that increasing NAD+ levels with its precursor NMN can enhance tumor sensitivity to cancer immunotherapy.” Again, studies need to be replicated in humans, but the results look promising.


We know the risk of developing cancer sadly increases with age. Cancer Research UK reports, “Age-specific incidence rates rise steeply from around age 55-59. The highest rates are in the 85 to 89 age group for females and males.” Scientists analysing how NAD+ boosters could help reverse the ageing process may just find, in time, that a remarkable added benefit could be reducing the risk of developing some cancers that, to date, have noticeably increased with age. 


Medical advances will always need to be checked and challenged, understandably, for any unknown consequences. However, to date there is no evidence taking NMN produces any unwanted side effects. The supplement could, in fact, become one of the strongest pieces of armour we have in defending ourselves, particularly from cancers strongly linked to ageing.







  2. Joe Regan interviews David Sinclair
  4. Declining NAD+Induces a Pseudohypoxic State Disrupting Nuclear-Mitochondrial Communication during Aging, Cell, ARTICLE| VOLUME 155, ISSUE 7, P1624-1638, DECEMBER 19, 2013



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