Clear Link Between Heavy Vitamin B Intake And Lung Cancer

Lung CA seen on CXR

Vitamin B provides protection against diseases but it is a "double-edged sword" as taking this vitamin in high doses may increase risk of lung cancer, according to a new study. If there is a connection, it's not clear how the vitamins might influence the cancer risk, Brasky said, although it may have something to do with how the vitamins interact with male sex hormones. "Our data show that taking high doses of B6 and B12 over a very long period of time could contribute to lung cancer incidence in male smokers".

Researchers analyzed data from 77,118 participants in the Vitamins and Lifestyle (VITAL) cohort, a long-term prospective observational study created to evaluate the potential associations between cancer risk and use of vitamin or other mineral supplements.

If you look at B-vitamin supplement bottles...they are anywhere between 50-fold the USA recommended dietary allowance (to) upward of 2,100-fold.

Over recent years, a number of studies have looked for links between lung cancer and B vitamins.

The participants were recruited from the state of Washington between 2000 and 2002 and were made to answer questions about their vitamin use over the previous 10 years.

Brasky said people can easily get enough vitamin B from eating meat, chickpeas and cereal fortified with the vitamin.

The results showed that among women, there was no correlation between supplemental B6, B9, and B12 and lung cancer risk. "So there really is no reason to supplement your vitamin B intake at these levels, and certainly not for years on end", he said.

However, the study wasn't created to prove cause-and-effect between the vitamins and lung cancer; it only showed an association. Male smokers taking B12 at such doses were approximately four times more likely to develop the disease compared to non-users.

B vitamins are involved in this pathway, but, at higher doses, the pathway may be compromised, promoting carcinogenesis. Taking B6 at this dose increased the lung cancer risk by three times and taking B12 at this dose increased it by four times.

Analysis revealed no association among women between lung cancer risk and supplementation with vitamin B6 or vitamin B12.

"There's a strong belief that vitamins would never harm you".

According to MacKay, "The numerous benefits of B vitamins from food and dietary supplements - including supporting cognition, heart health and energy levels - are well-established".

In a statement, Duffy MacKay, a senior vice president of the Council for Responsible Nutrition, a trade group for the vitamin industry, urged consumers "to resist the temptation to allow sensational headlines from this new study to alter their use of B vitamins". Due to the limitations and its misalignment with the greater body of scientific evidence, the study should be interpreted with caution. The team report their findings in Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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