Published: Thu, August 24, 2017
Medical | By Ismael Lynch

Large Amounts of Vitamin B Linked to Lung Cancer

Large Amounts of Vitamin B Linked to Lung Cancer

Their combined work is the first prospective, observational study to examine links between long-term high doses of B-6 and B-12 supplements and lung cancer risk.

Prior studies created to assess the association between lung cancer risk and B vitamin intake have yielded inconsistent results. Male smokers taking B6 at this dose were three times more likely to develop lung cancer.

Could vitamin B supplements protect against lung cancer? We found that men who took high doses of vitamin B6 and B12 from individual supplements over a long period of time (meaning, doses much higher than the US RDA and much greater than what one would receive from taking a multivitamin over the long term) were at almost 2-fold increased risk of lung cancer compared to men who did not have B6 or B12 intake from any supplemental source.

The team sought to account for as many factors as possible that could skew the results, including smoking history, age, race, education, body size, alcohol consumption, personal history of cancer or chronic lung disease, family history of lung cancer and use of anti-inflammatory drugs. Dr. Kourosh Ahmadi with Surrey University says it is highly unlikely very many people are taking the vitamins above the recommended daily allowance.

"As far as the magnitude of the association, I think you could characterize our reaction as concerned; especially if you consider how common these supplements are".

Brasky pointed out that taking a high dose of vitamin B won't prevent lung cancer if you smoke.

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In a study that followed more than 77,000 people for more than a decade, researchers noted a troubling trend when it comes to one of the most popular vitamin supplements on the market.

When Brasky and colleagues stratified results by smoking status, they determined the cohort included too few never-smokers to accurately evaluate potential associations in that group. Then, they followed up the participants for an average of about 6 years to see how many developed lung cancer. In addition to complying with a host of federal and state regulations governing dietary supplements and food in the areas of manufacturing, marketing, quality control and safety, our manufacturer and supplier members also agree to adhere to additional voluntary guidelines as well as to CRN's Code of Ethics.

Although now, there is evidence of just how much harm long-term mega-supplementation with B6 and B12 can do for male smokers.

Disclosures: The NCI, NIH and Office of Dietary Supplements funded this study.

So why might high dosages of vitamin B6 and B12 supplements in former or current male smokers leave them more vulnerable to lung cancer? The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.

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