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Deficiencies in B vitamins may increase the probability of DNA damage and subsequent gene mutations, and influence gene expression. The new study included 385,747 men and women enrolled in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition study (EPIC Study). The participants were recruited into the study from 1992 to 2000. Blood samples obtained during this time period were analyzed for the amino acid methionine and vitamins B2, B6, folate and B12.
From enrollment until 2006, 899 cases of lung cancer were diagnosed. These cases were matched by gender and other factors with 1,770 control subjects. A reduction in lung cancer risk was associated with increasing serum levels of vitamin B6 as well as methionine. Those whose vitamin B6 level was among the top one-fourth of participants had a 66 % lower risk of developing lung cancer than those whose levels were among the lowest fourth. A protective benefit was also observed for high folate levels in smokers. The lower risk of lung cancer in association with increased serum vitamin B6 observed in the study is consistent with results of studies showing B6 lowers the risk of colorectal cancer by 50%. The study is published in the June 16, 2010 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.