B vitamins cut risk of lung cancer by 50 percent
A higher daily intake of B vitamins may decrease lung cancer risk, according to a study conducted by researchers from the International Agency for Research on Cancer and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Researchers followed 400,000 people from 10 European countries for eight years. At the end of the study period, they found that regardless of whether participants were smokers, non-smokers or former smokers, those with the highest blood levels of vitamin B6 and the amino acid methionine were 50 percent less likely to develop lung cancer than those with the lowest levels.
Because the study only examined a correlation, it did not prove that a higher intake of B vitamins was directly responsible for cancer risk. It is possible that both B vitamin levels and lower cancer risk are caused by some third factor, such as a healthy lifestyle.
"Although this study suggests a link between vitamin B levels in the blood and reduced risk of lung cancer, this doesn't prove that vitamin B can directly protect against the disease," said Joanna Owens of Cancer Research UK. "Vitamin B levels might be higher in people who eat a healthy diet, and this in itself can help reduce the risk of cancer. The most important way to prevent lung cancer is to stop smoking. No amount of vitamins can counteract the risks posed by smoking."
If B vitamins are indeed found to be protective against cancer, they could eventually be used to help lower cancer risk in former smokers and in those trying to quit.
"These findings are really exciting as they are important for understanding the process of lung cancer and could have implications for prevention," said Panagiota Mitrou of the World Cancer Research Fund, which was involved in the research. "But ... it is vital that we get the message across to smokers that increasing intake of B vitamins is not - and never will be - a substitute for stopping smoking."
Sources for this story include: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/10318410.stm