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Lung Cancer

Does Vitamin B6 Lower the Risk of Lung Cancer?

By Dr. Kristie

One of the many risks of smoking cigarettes is an increased risk of lung cancer. The statistics are sobering. A man who smokes until age seventy-five has a sixteen percent chance of dying of this disease that slowly destroys lung tissue and gradually spreads to other parts of the body. Unfortunately, some smokers are not willing to kick the habit.

What about diet? A new study shows that getting more vitamin B6 could help smokers lower their risk of lung cancer.

More B6 to Prevent Lung Cancer?

In a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers looked at blood levels of vitamin B6 in 899 lung cancer sufferers and compared them to 1,770 people who were free of the disease – noting an inverse relationship between the risk of lung cancer and vitamin B6 blood levels. Those with the highest quantities of vitamin B6 in their blood were less likely to get the disease. In fact, those who had the very highest levels (top twenty-five percent) had less than half the risk of being diagnosed with lung cancer.

The same study showed that people who had higher levels of a protein called methionine, and, to a lesser extent, the vitamin folate also have a lower risk of cancer of the lung. High levels of all three components reduced the risk by as much as sixty-six percent. At least for methionine, higher levels lower the risk of lung cancer for both smokers and non-smokers.

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How to Get More B6?

It’s too early to say whether vitamin B6 prevents lung cancer, just that there’s a association between higher levels and a lower risk of cancer of the lung. For this reason, taking vitamin B6 supplements to reduce lung cancer risk cannot be recommended. Plus, it is not clear whether B6 supplements have the same benefits as natural vitamin B6 from food sources. Getting more than 100 milligrams of B6 a day in supplemental form is not routinely recommended since high levels of vitamin B6 can damage the nervous system.

The best natural sources of vitamin B6 are animal productsbeef, chicken, and fish. Other good sources are fortified cereals, grains, walnuts, leafy greens, and bananas – although vitamin B6 is better absorbed from animal products than it is from plant-based sources. The best sources of methionine are animal products, while folate is most abundant in greenleafy vegetableslentils, and beans.

More Vitamin B6 and Colon Cancer: The Bottom Line?

The safest bet to reduce the risk of lung cancer is to quit smoking and eat a varied diet made up of fruits and vegetables, beans and lentils, nuts, whole grains, and smaller amounts of lean, organic meat. (preferably humanely raised). This ensures adequate amounts of vitamins B6, methionine, and folate for most people – without the risk of getting too much B6.

References: website. "Higher Vitamin B6 Levels May Reduce Lung Cancer Risk"

About the Author

She is a Medical Doctor with a concentration in Family Practice. She also has an undergraduate degree in both Biology and Psychology and masters in Clinical Pathology.

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