Vitamin B6 may slash the risk of developing colorectal cancer

January 30, 2008

Increased intake of vitamin B6 from diet and supplements may reduce the risk of colorectal cancer by over 20% according to a large Scottish study.

Almost 5,000 people took part in the study by researchers from the University of Edinburgh, Western General Hospital and the University of Aberdeen; the results were dose-dependent meaning the greater the intake of Vitamin B6 between the lower the risk of colorectal cancer.

The study adds to an ever growing body of science supporting the potential colorectal benefits of higher intake of the B vitamins.

There are an estimated 945,000 new cases of colorectal cancer every year globally with an estimated 492,000 deaths from the cancer yearly. Only about five per cent of colorectal adenomas are thought to become malignant, and this process could take between five and ten years.

The new case-control study involved 2,028 hospital-based colorectal cancer (CRC) patients and 2,722 population-based healthy people as controls.

After adjusting the results for potentially confounding factors such as age, sex, location of the tumor, folic acid status, and certain genotypes (people with a genetic risk of colorectal cancer), there was a moderately strong inverse and dose-dependent association in all people were between CRC risk and the intake of dietary and total vitamin B6.

Furthermore, a meta-analysis of published studies supported these results, wrote the researchers. High vitamin B6 intakes were reported to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer by 19 per cent. The protective effect was found to be higher among 55-year-old individuals they added. The study is published in the January 1st, 2008 issue of the journal Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention.

Acrylamide in food may increase the risk of breast cancer according to new findings

Acrylamide is a chemical formed when frying, roasting, grilling or baking carbohydrate-rich foods at temperatures above 120°C. Acrylamide is found in a number of foods, such as bread, crisps, and French fries. Smoking cigarettes also generates substantial amounts of acrylamide.

Animal tests have shown acrylamide to be a carcinogen (a cancer causing agent), but until recently no studies have demonstrated a link between acrylamide in foods and cancer in humans. This study performed by scientists from the National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark is the first epidemiological study using markers for measuring human acrylamide exposure, and the first to report a link between acrylamide and breast cancer.

Positive association

The study comprises 374 postmenopausal women who developed breast cancer and 374 healthy women as controls. All previous epidemiological studies have been based on food frequency questionnaires. The scientists behind this study tested the women’s blood for the level of acrylamide bound to hemoglobin in red blood cells.

The findings show a positive association between an increased acrylamide-hemoglobin level and the development of breast cancer after adjustment for smoking behavior. The risk of breast cancer doubles with a tenfold increase in the acrylamide-hemoglobin level. A tenfold increase in the acrylamide-hemoglobin level corresponds more or less to the difference measured between the women with the lowest and highest exposure. The study also shows a stronger association for estrogen receptor positive breast cancer.

The findings strengthen the concern that acrylamide is carcinogenic in the quantities to which ordinary people are exposed through their diet. It should also be noted that a new Dutch study shows an association between acrylamide in foods and ovarian and endometrial cancer. The paper is published in the January 8th, 2008 issue of the International Journal of Cancer.