A study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) has found convincing evidence that is good news for lung cancer prevention. The combination of Vitamin B6, methionine and folate reduces the chances of lung cancer by a whopping two-thirds.
Lung cancers are some of the most prevalent and difficult to treat cancers. Word wide, lung cancers kill more people than any other form of cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), 222,250 Americans will be diagnosed with lung cancer this year and 157,300 will die from the disease.
In the new study, Paul Brennan Ph.D. of the International Agency for Research on Cancer, Lyon, France and his colleagues investigated 385,747 research subjects from 10 European countries. The researchers documented B vitamins and methionine levels based on serum samples from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) cohort study conducted from 1992 to 2000. Then they compared the levels of 899 individuals who had been diagnosed with cancer by 2006 with those of 1,770 control participants.
The results revealed a dramatically lower risk for lung cancer among participants with the highest blood levels of B6 and methionine. The researchers also found a moderately lower risk for lung cancer in former and current smokers with higher serum levels of folate, and they stated in their JAMA article that “Similar and consistent decreases in risk were observed in never, former, and current smokers”.
The scientists wrote, “Our results suggest that above-median serum measures of both B6 and methionine, assessed on average five years prior to disease onset, are associated with a reduction of at least 50 percent in the risk of developing lung cancer. An additional association for serum levels of folate was present, that when combined with B6 and methionine, was associated with a two-thirds lower risk of lung cancer.”
The researchers believe that the key to such dramatic lung cancer risk reduction may be found in previous research which linked B vitamin deficiencies to DNA damage and subsequent gene mutations. “Given their involvement in maintaining DNA integrity and gene expression, these nutrients have a potentially important role in inhibiting cancer development, and offer the possibility of modifying cancer risk through dietary changes,” the authors concluded. They also pointed out that deficiencies in B vitamins are high in many western populations.
Vitamin B6 is one of the busiest and most important vitamins, and it is involved in no less than 100 different chemical reactions in your body per minute. Excellent sources of vitamin B6 include spinach, bell peppers, and turnip greens. Very good food sources of vitamin B6 include garlic, tuna, cauliflower, mustard greens, banana, celery, cabbage, crimini mushrooms, asparagus, broccoli, kale, collard greens, Brussels sprouts, cod and chard.
Methionine is an essential amino acid. This means that it must be obtained through the diet in adequate quantities to meet the body’s needs. Food sources of methionine include meat, poultry, fish, cottage cheese, peanuts, beans, eggs, garlic, lentils, onions, yogurt and sesame seeds.
Folate plays an essential role in human growth and development, in particular cell division and DNA synthesis, and is a member of the B vitamin complex. Natural folates and are found in a wide variety of foods, including dark green leafy vegetables (spinach, kale, mustard greens, turnip greens, escarole, chard, arugula, beet greens, bok choy, dandelion green, radicchio, black-eyed peas, lentils, okra, kidney beans, great northern beans, broccoli, leaf lettuce, beets, lima beans, sunflower seeds, Brussels sprouts, corn, asparagus, green peas, cabbage, avocados, peanuts, tomato juice, orange juice, strawberries, eggs and bananas.