B Vitamins and Cancer
Posted Friday, November 7, 2008

B vitamins may reduce breast cancer and other cancer risks in women over the age of 65 according to new research presented in the most recent Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA). The study, conducted by researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, found that daily supplements of B vitamins could be a significant preventive measure for older populations who have increased nutritional requirements. Folate, vitamin B6 and B12 are all thought to be important elements in decreasing cancer risks because they are essential for regulating gene expression and maintaining DNA integrity, crucial functions for healthy cells. While this finding is certainly good news in and of itself, some of the study's more neutral results may actually be the bigger story in the short term.

Recently there have been concerns that folic acid, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 might actually have harmful effects, and even potentially be behind a rise in cancer risk amongst certain populations. This prospect could have been especially troubling for US policy which promotes background fortification of foods with folic acid (folate). The most predominant example of this fortification is the addition of folic acid to bread, which began in 1998 to reduce risk of neural tube defects in infants.

The results of this most recent research upends those concerns thankfully: In younger populations, folic acid, vitamin B6 and B12 were found to have no effect on cancer risk -- neither positive or negative. Similar findings have recently been reported by researchers in Norway which also showed no increased risk of any kind.

For more info:
DSIB: Folic Acid
DSIB: Folate
JAMA: Effect of combined folic acid, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 on cancer risk in women: a randomized trial
NutraUSA: B vitamins may protect over-65s from cancer


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