B Vitamins Can Help Prevent Breast Cancer
by J. D. Heyes
New research suggests that ingredients found in B vitamins could help reduce the risk and incidence of breast cancer, particularly folate, a water soluble B vitamin that occurs naturally in food.
The study of 1,412 women, by researchers at the University of Hawaii Cancer Center in Honolulu, found "that prediagnostic plasma concentrations of pyridoxal-5'-phosphate (PLP), an active form of vitamin B6, may prevent breast cancer," according to a summary of the data.
"Results revealed that subjects with plasma PLP with highest concentrations had a reduced risk of invasive breast cancer compared to the women in the lowest PLP" levels, the summary said.
Those results mirror those found in earlier studies indicating folate and other B-vitamin ingredients may have an effect at preventing breast cancers, especially in pre-menopausal women.
B vitamins linked to decrease in cancer risks
According to findings published in the American Journal of Epidemiology last year, pre-menopausal women with the highest average intake of folate from the diet had a 40 percent reduced chance of developing breast cancer.
The study was conducted with women in China, where there is no mandatory regulation requiring the addition of folic acid - the synthetic form of folate - to flour. In the U.S., grain products have been fortified with folate since 1998.
In the Hawaii study, the results of which were published in September in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, 706 invasivebreast cancer patients were matched for age, menopausal hormone use, ethnicity and other characteristics, with an equal number of women who did not have the disease.
Lower plasma PLP levels were seen in obese and overweight women, as well as smokers. Women whose plasma PLP levels were in the top 25 percent of participants were found to have a 30 percent lower risk of invasive breast cancer, compared with those women whose levels were in the lowest quarter.
Studies showed that high doses of vitamin B6 decreased the growth of tumor cells, including mammary tumor cells. The vitamin has also been found to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which also serve to reduce cancer risk.
"This nested case-control study provides new evidence that circulating levels of vitamin B6 may be inversely related to the risk of invasive postmenopausal breast cancer," the authors said. "Although the exact mechanism by which vitamin B6 may reduce the risk of breast cancer is presently unknown, laboratory data are overwhelming that this compound is critical to multiple pathways that might inhibit breast carcinogenesis. In conclusion, these results, in combination with information from two other prospective studies, suggest a role for vitamin B6 in the prevention of postmenopausal breast cancer."
Earlier studies have shown similar results
Folate is found in leafy green vegetables like spinach and turnip greens, citrus fruits and juices, and in dried beans and peas.
"Since cereals and grains are widely consumed in the U.S., these products have become a very important contributor of folic acid to the American diet," says a summary of folate by the National Institutes of Health.
Other studies have linked B vitamins with reduced cancer risks.
In 2010, researchers from the International Agency for Research on Cancer found that a higher intake of B vitamins led to a 50 percent decrease in the risk for lung cancer.
"Researchers followed 400,000 people from 10 European countries for eight years," wrote David Gutierrez for Natural News. "At the end of the study period, they found that regardless of whether participants were smokers, non-smokers or former smokers, those with the highest blood levels of vitamin B6 and the amino acid methionine were 50 percent less likely to develop lung cancer than those with the lowest levels."