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Study reveals link between vitamin B supplementation and lung cancer

24 August 2017

Focusing on vitamin B may not be the answer to protecting against this increase in lung cancer risk, Basky said. Plus, the study relies on people's recall over 10 years to remember their supplement consumption, which may not be accurate, they say.

"Our study found that consuming high-dose individual B6 and B12 vitamin supplements over a 10-year period is associated with increased lung cancer risk, especially in male smokers", the researchers wrote in the report, as cited by the Independent.

Regular taking of vitamins B6 and B12 in high doses were found to be most affecting smokers, who were found to 3-4 times higher risk of getting lung cancer.

There was an even greater link between B12 supplementation and lung cancer, too.

"This sets all of these other influencing factors as equal, so we are left with a less confounded effect of long-term B6 and B12 super-supplementation", Brasky said in a press release.

When researchers evaluated 10-year average supplement doses, results revealed a near-doubling of lung cancer risk among men in the highest categories of vitamin B6 supplementation ( 20 mg per day, HR = 1.82; 95% CI, 1.25-2.65) and vitamin B12 supplementation ( 55 µg per day, HR = 1.98; 95% CI, 1.32-2.97) compared with nonusers.

While the study seemed to show a relationship between high doses of vitamin B and lung cancer, some health experts remain skeptical.

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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.

For this study, Theodore Brasky, PhD, of the OSUCCC - James, and colleagues analyzed data from more than 77,000 patients participants in the VITamins And Lifestyle (VITAL) cohort study, a long-term prospective observational study created to evaluate vitamin and other mineral supplements in relation to cancer risk.

When Medical News Today spoke with Dr. Brasky, he said, "Unlike most other studies (particularly at the time), we obtained information on supplement frequency of use, duration of use, and dose commonly used in the 10 years prior to the beginning of the study".

The findings only relate to doses of vitamin-b well above those contained in a multi-vitamin.

The participants (aged 50 to 76), who were recruited between 2000 and 2002, provided information on their use of vitamin B over the previous ten years, including details about dosage. The study was headed up by Theodore Brasky, Ph.D. - from the OSUCCC - and their results are published this week in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. "I think that the door remains open on that".

Important note: Because this was an observational study, it can't prove for sure that these vitamin B supplements actually caused lung cancer.

"Nonetheless, half of the USA adult population uses one or more dietary supplements", Brasky and colleagues wrote.

Study reveals link between vitamin B supplementation and lung cancer