Cancer warning: The vitamin supplement significantly associated with lung cancer – study

Lung cancer: Dr Amir describes the symptoms

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Finding ways to stop cancerous cells from sprouting and subsequently spreading is a primary goal of ongoing research. This effort has yielded some interesting insights of late. One eye-opening study, published in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention last year, drew a strong association between vitamin B12 intake and lung cancer risk.

Vitamin B12 performs many important roles in the body, such as aiding the development and function of the central nervous system.

The vitamin is found in meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, yeast extract (such as Marmite) and specially fortified foods.

Some people may need to supplement with B12 if they become deficient, but supplementation can pose risks as you can take too much.

The recent study found a significant association between lung cancer risk and higher levels of B12.

The researchers in the study noted that “previous epidemiological studies reported associations between dietary vitamin B12 intake and lung cancer risk, more studies are warranted to clarify this association in different populations”.

To plug this gap, researchers examined the association between dietary B12 intake and lung cancer risk in the Singapore Chinese Health Study.

This an ongoing prospective cohort study of 63,257 Singaporean Chinese men and women, 45–74 years of age at enrollment during 1993–1998.

The study participants were followed up for incidence of lung cancer for up to 25 years.

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Dietary vitamin B12 intake was derived from a validated food frequency questionnaire.

The analysis also adjusted for multiple potential confounders that could influence the association between lung cancer and dietary vitamin B12 intake.

What did the researchers find out?

After a mean follow-up of 17.64 years, 2,001 study participants developed lung cancer.

High levels of vitamin B12 intake were associated with “significantly” increased risk of lung cancer.

“This positive association was more apparent in men than in women, in adenocarcinoma [a type of cancer in the glands] patients, or in participants with equal or less than two years follow-up than those with longer duration of follow-up,” the researchers wrote.

The latest study follows a number of studies linking B12 supplementation to cancer risk.

A 2009 study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association found Folic acid and B12 supplementation was associated with a 21 percent increased risk for cancer.

To arrive at this conclusion, researchers analysed data from two studies that included almost 7,000 heart patients treated with B vitamin supplements or placebo for an average of three and one-half years between 1998 and 2005.

Other studies have not identified an association between B12 supplementation and cancer risk.

A 2016 study, entitled “Effect of vitamin B supplementation on cancer incidence, death due to cancer, and total mortality”, concluded vitamin B supplementation does not have an effect on cancer incidence, death due to cancer, or total mortality.

It also found B supplementation to be associated with a lower risk of skin melanoma, but has no effect on other cancers.

General cancer symptoms

General signs include:

  • Unexplained pain or ache
  • Very heavy night sweats
  • Unusual lump or swelling anywhere
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Changes in your poo or pee.

“Remember, anyone can develop cancer, but it’s more common as we get older,” says Cancer Research UK.

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