However, one of the latest investigations found a 21 percent increase in overall cancer risk with supplementation of B-12 and B-9. Worryingly, the exact opposite may be true if they are taken at high levels over long periods of time. CNN reports the participants with the highest risk of lung cancer were smokers who use vitamin B supplementation. This finding of increased risk appeared to be specific to men who were current smokers.
"That's marketing. That's not science", he said. While previous research suggests vitamins B6 and B12 can provide some protection against the disease, a new study found taking too much actually escalates the risk of lung cancer, but only in men.
Current smokers who reported 10-year use of vitamin B12 at doses greater than 55 µg per day appeared almost four times as likely to develop lung cancer as nonusers (HR = 3.71; 95% CI, 1.77-7.74). It found all men who took high-dose vitamin B supplements for a decade had about double the risk of developing lung cancer.
"If you look at B-vitamin supplement bottles. they are anywhere between 50-fold the U.S. recommended dietary allowance (to) upward of 2,100-fold", Brasky said.
Editors note: This article has been corrected to reflect that lung cancer risk almost tripled and quadrupled in men who were current smokers and taking B6 and B12 at the highest levels compared to male smokers who did not take B6 or B12 supplements.
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.
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All participants enrolled in the state of Washington between 2000 and 2002, when they were aged 50 to 76. Furthermore, some public health experts note it's possible that cancer itself can change the vitamin levels in the blood.
Max Gomez reported, early studies seemed to show that they might, and they are now some of the most popular supplements sold in drug stores.
"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". "Combustible tobacco smoke is the No. 1 most important factor, not just only in lung cancer but in many cancers".
"Now if you're a male and you're a smoker, and these findings were proven to be replicated over time, then there would be some concern that you probably don't want to be taking megadoses [of B 6 and B12]", Brasky says.
Why B vitamins influence cancer risk is not known for sure, but some believe that it is related to how B vitamins interact with the so-called one-carbon-metabolism pathway.