Lung cancer is the most common cause of death from cancer in the world today. A 2010 study revealed how improving your intake of B vitamins could reduce your risk of developing this disease by 50 percent or more.
The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, gathered information about the diet and lifestyle of over 385,000 people in several European countries between 1992 and 2000.
Blood samples were taken at the start of the study and analyzed for levels of B vitamins and related biochemicals, such as methionine, an essential amino acid your body doesn’t produce on its own. Methionine must be consumed in your diet.
These nutrients were studied because they are known to help the synthesis and repair of DNA in the body’s tissues, potentially preventing defects in DNA that can cause cancer.
It was found that the risk of developing lung cancer was reduced by at least 50 percent in people who had high levels of vitamin B6 and methionine. When the B vitamin folate was also present, it cut lung cancer risk by 66 percent.
The study participants had been broken into groups of people who had never smoked, formerly smoked and currently smoked. Interestingly, the risk of developing lung cancer was reduced by the same amounts in all groups.
Researchers were quick to point out that even though B vitamins reduce the risk of developing lung cancer for smokers, this does not detract from the importance of reducing the use of tobacco throughout the world. Smoking is still the number one cause of lung cancer and should be prevented.
It was also noted that long term consumption of adequate B vitamins appears to provide the most benefit and protection against cancer. There is no evidence that short-term doses of B vitamins would be protective.
B vitamin deficiencies tend to be high in many western populations. It’s important to make sure you’re consuming enough B vitamins on an ongoing basis.
How to Get More B Vitamins
Supplements are an easy way to boost your B vitamin intake. B-complex vitamin supplements contain all eight of the known B vitamins. You can also get supplements with one or more of the individual B vitamins, such as B6.
Food may be the best way to get your B vitamins because foods rich in B vitamins are also often packed with other vital nutrients. B vitamins tend to be found in most whole, unprocessed foods.
Excellent sources of B vitamins in general include:
- Leafy green vegetables
- Starchy vegetables, such as squash, potatoes and parsnips
- Animal products, including meat, dairy, and eggs
- Fruits, such as avocado, dates and berries
- Legumes, including tempeh and tofu
- Nuts and seeds
- Whole grains
- Nutritional yeast
Foods high in specifically vitamin B6 include fish, organ meats, starchy vegetables and fruit (other than citrus). Chick peas are also a great source of B6, with a one cup serving providing 55 percent of your daily recommended intake.
The amino acid methionine is available as a supplement. In food, it is primarily found in animal products like fish and red meats, as well as dairy and eggs.
Good vegan sources of methionine include spirulina, sesame seeds, soy products, peanuts and lentils. Smaller amounts are also found in many fruits and vegetables, such as broccoli, spinach, sweet corn, cauliflower and asparagus.
A vegetarian for over two decades, she specializes in writing about health, spirit and great food.
She loves to explore the mountains near her home town of Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada.