CRN Urges Caution When Interpreting New Study on B Vitamins

A study found men who take high doses of vitamins B6 or B12 over a long period were much more likely to develop the disease. File

Focusing on vitamin B may not be the answer to protecting against this increase in lung cancer risk, Basky said.

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

Surprisingly, there was no increased risk of lung cancer found in women who took high-dose vitamin B6 and B12 supplements long-term, only men.

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

The risk almost tripled (HR, 2.93; 95% CI, 1.50-5.72; P =.04) and quadrupled (HR, 3.71; 95% CI, 1.77-7.74; P .01) in men who were current smokers who took vitamin B6 and B12 at the highest levels, respectively (P .01), compared to male smokers who did not take B6 or B12 supplements.

High vitamin B intake increases lung cancer risk among men

Researchers from Ohio State University and the National Taiwan University studied more than 77,000 people aged between 50 and 76 in the USA and found that men who took high dosages of vitamins B6 and B12 faced 30 percent to 40 percent increased risk of lung cancer.

And a trade organization representing the vitamin industry cautioned against reading too much into the study.

Study lead Dr Theodore Brasky warned many supplements contained doses "much, much higher" than recommended. Participants reported information to researchers about B-vitamin usage over the previous decade, including dosage information.

The link between B vitamins and lung cancer was only evident in those taken from individual supplementation, not those which were included as part of a multivitamin. While surplus vitamin B may be a factor in developing the disease, smokers are 30 times more likely to get lung cancer than nonsmokers, regardless of dietary supplements.

"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. People should really ask themselves if they need over 1,200 times the RDA (recommended daily allowance) of a substance. For vitamin B12, that risk almost quadrupled.

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The study doesn't conclusively link higher doses of the vitamins to higher rates of lung cancer.

Paul Brennan, head of the genetics section with the International Agency for Research on Cancer, said the study appears to be valid. "As in much of nutrition, the story is more complicated than that", Bernicker said.

But a new study now says the exact opposite might be true.

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". Due to the limitations and its misalignment with the greater body of scientific evidence, the study should be interpreted with caution.

The study was published August 22 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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