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Vitamins Fight Cancer: E, A, D and B6


Vitamins Fight Cancer
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There are FOUR separate articles on this page. Scroll down, past each article’s references, for the one(s) you want to read.

 

1) Vitamin E Prevents Lung Cancer

2) Vitamin A: Cancer Cure or Cancer Cause?

3) Vitamin D Stops Cancer; Cuts Risk In Half
4) Vitamin B6 Reduces Colon Cancer

Orthomolecular Medicine News Service

VITAMIN E PREVENTS LUNG CANCER

News Media Virtually Silent on Positive Vitamin Research

 

Researchers at the University of Texas Anderson Cancer Center have found that taking more vitamin E substantially reduces lung cancer. Their new study shows that people consuming the highest amounts of vitamin E had the greatest benefit. When they compared persons taking the most vitamin E with those taking the least, there was a 61% reduction in lung cancer risk. (1)

 

Lung cancer is the most prevalent form of cancer on earth; over 1.3 million people are diagnosed with it each year. With medical treatment, survival rates are “consistently poor,” says Cancer Research UK. Lung cancer kills nearly 1.2 million per year. It accounts for 12% of all cancers, but results in 18% of all cancer deaths. (2) Anything that can reduce these dismal facts is important news . . .very important. Yet the mainstream media have virtually ignored vitamin E’s important role as a cancer fighter.

 

A sixty-one percent reduction in lung cancer with vitamin E? How could the news media have missed this one?

 

The news media probably did not miss it: they simply did not report it. They are biased. You can see for yourself what bias there is. Try a “Google” search for any of the major newspapers or broadcast media, using the name of the news organization along with the phrase “vitamin E lung cancer.” When you do, you will find that it will quickly bring up previous items alleging that vitamin E might (somehow) increase cancer risk. You will find little or nothing at all on how vitamin E prevents cancer. Indeed, the bias is so strong that even a qualified search for “increased vitamin E reduces lung cancer” will still, and preferentially, bring up media coverage alleging that vitamin E is harmful. Negative reporting sells newspapers and pulls in viewing audiences. The old editors' adage must still be true: “If it bleeds, it leads.”

 

Here’s more positive vitamin E cancer research that the media “missed.” A study in 2002 looked at patients with colon cancer "who received a daily dose of 750 mg of vitamin E during a period of 2 weeks. Short-term supplementation with high doses of dietary vitamin E leads to increased CD4:CD8 ratios and to enhanced capacity by their T cells to produce the T helper 1 cytokines interleukin 2 and IFN-gamma. In 10 of 12 patients, an increase of 10% or more (average, 22%) in the number of T cells producing interleukin 2 was seen after 2 weeks of vitamin E supplementation." The authors concluded that "dietary vitamin E may be used to improve the immune functions in patients with advanced cancer." That improvement was achieved in a mere two weeks merits special attention. (3)

 

Was it on the news? Did you hear about how high doses of vitamin E help cancer patients’ immune systems in only two weeks? Why not? Might the answer possibly have anything to do with money? One cannot watch television or read a magazine or newspaper without it being obvious that drug company cash is one of the media’s very largest sources of revenue. Given where their advertising income comes from, it is hardly a big surprise that media reporting on vitamins is biased. Well-publicized vitamin scares feed the pharmaceutical industry. Successful reports of safe, inexpensive vitamin therapy do not.

One commentator has observed that pharmaceutical and other “corporations marshal huge public relations efforts on behalf of their agendas. In the United States the 170,000 public relations employees whose job it is to manipulate news, public opinion and public policy in the interests of their clients outnumber news reporters by 40,000.” (4) Another commentator wrote that “Janine Jackson of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), a news media watchdog group, told the American Free Press that 60 percent of journalists surveyed by FAIR admitted that advertisers ‘try to change stories (and) there is an overwhelming influence of corporations and advertisers’ on broadcast and print news reporting.” (5)

Drug companies don’t have any drug that can reduce lung cancer risk by 61%. If they did, you would have heard all about it in their advertisements. And it would be all over the news. Positive drug studies get the headlines. Positive vitamin studies rarely do. This is an enormous public health problem with enormous consequences. A cynic might say that press and television coverage of a vitamin study tends to be inversely proportionate to the study’s clinical usefulness. Truly valuable research does not scare people; it helps people get well. It would be difficult to identify anything more helpful than actively reporting the story when a vitamin is shown to reduce lung cancer by 61%.

 

The good news about how important high quantities of vitamin E are in combating cancer is not arising out of nowhere. A US National Library of Medicine MEDLINE search will bring up over 3,000 studies on the subject, some dating back to 1946. By the early 1950s, research clearly supported the use of vitamin E against cancer. (6) Before 1960, vitamin E was shown to reduce the side effects of radiation cancer treatment. (7) In reviewing vitamin E research, one notes that the high-dose studies got the best results.

 

Vitamin E is not the sure cure for cancer. It is not certain prevention, either. Stopping cigarette smoking is essential. But vitamin E is part of the solution, and we need more of it. An independent panel of physicians and researchers (8) has recently called for increasing the daily recommended intake for vitamin E to 200 IU. The present US RDA/DRI is a mere 15-20 IU/day.

 

It is time to raise it. A lot.  

 

 

References:

 

1. Mahabir S, Schendel K, Dong YQ, Barrera SL, Spitz MR, Forman MR. Dietary alpha-, beta-, gamma- and delta-tocopherols in lung cancer risk. Int J Cancer. 2008 Sep 1;123(5):1173-80.

 

2. http://info.cancerresearchuk.org/cancerstats/geographic/world/commoncancers/

 

3. Malmberg KJ, Lenkei R, Petersson M et al. A short-term dietary supplementation of high doses of vitamin E increases T helper 1 cytokine production in patients with advanced colorectal cancer. Clin Cancer Res. 2002 Jun; 8(6):1772-8.

 

4. Robbins R.  Global problems and the culture of capitalism. Allyn and Bacon, 1999, p 138. http://www.globalissues.org/article/160/media-and-advertising

 

5. Prestage J. Mainstream journalism: Shredding the First Amendment. Online Journal, November 7, 2002. http://www.globalissues.org/article/160/media-and-advertising

 

6. Telford IR. The influence of alpha tocopherol on lung tumors in strain A mice.

Tex Rep Biol Med. 1955;13(3):515-21. Swick RW, Baumann CA, Miller WL Jr, Rumsfeld HW Jr.  Tocopherol in tumor tissues and effects of tocopherol on the development of liver tumors. Cancer Res. 1951 Dec;11(12):948-53.

 

7. Fischer W.  [The protective effect of tocopherol against toxic phenomena connected with the roentgen irradiation of mammary carcinoma.] Munch Med Wochenschr. 1959 Sep 4;101:1487-8. German. Also: Sabatini C, Balli L, Tagliavini R.  [Effects of vitamin E and testosterone in comparisons of skin exposed to high doses of roentgen rays administered by semi-contact technic.] Riforma Med. 1955 Apr 30;69(18):Suppl, 1-4. Italian. See also: Graham JB, Graham RM. Enhanced effectiveness of radiotherapy in cancer of the uterine cervix. Surg Forum. 1953;(38th Congress):332-8.

8. Doctors say, Raise the RDAs now. Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, October 30, 2007. http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v03n10.shtml

For more information:

Many full-text nutrition and vitamin therapy research papers are posted for free access at http://orthomolecular.org/library/jom .

 

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Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, August 20, 2008

VITAMIN A : Cancer Cure or Cancer Cause?

Media Tells a One-Sided Story

(OMNS, August 20, 2008) Vitamin A "pushes," "promotes," and even "incites" cancer growth, say the headlines! Is this yet another instance of vitamin bashing, or are you supplement-takers killing yourselves? Let's take a look.

A few researchers are claiming that vitamin A, in a test-tube experiment, will "push" stem cells to change into cells that can build blood vessels. This, they say, may increase cancer. So when "structures similar to blood vessels developed within the tumor masses grown in culture," they concluded that vitamin A promotes carcinogenesis. (1) That is a bit of a leap. An in vitro (test-tube) project is far from clinical proof. Even the study authors admit "vitamin A is known to be necessary for embryonic development precisely because it helps to 'differentiate' stem cells, pushing them to become required tissue."

There is an anti-cancer drug that specifically acts by blocking the breakdown of retinoic acid, derived from vitamin A. This approach has been found to be "surprisingly effective in treating animal models of human prostate cancer. . . Daily injections of the agent VN/14-1 resulted in up to a 50 percent decrease in tumor volume in mice implanted with human prostate cancer cells. . . No further tumor growth was seen during the five-week study." (2) It seems that when cancerous tumors have more vitamin A available, they shrink. And there is a good reason tumors shrink. "Keeping more retinoic acid available within cancer cells. . . redirects these cells back into their normal growth patterns, which includes programmed cell death. . . This potent agent causes cancer cells to differentiate, forcing them to turn back to a non-cancerous state." So vitamin A seems to induce positive, healthy, cell changes. Indeed, this is why vitamin A derivatives are already in wide use to fight skin cancer. Vitamin A fights cancer. It does not "push," "promote," or "incite" it.

Sensational warnings and outright misstatements that natural vitamin A may "incite" cancer actually serve to incite newspaper readers and television viewers. Upon closer examination, a "vitamin promotes cancer" study often has the appearance of being conducted to prove an intended point. As the authors fuel fears about vitamin A, they also give away their goal, in their own words stating that "these findings open a new door to drug development." New marketing avenues for the development of patentable vitamin A-like drugs are a commercial opportunity that the pharmaceutical industry has not overlooked.

A vitamin A derivative "could protect against lung cancer development in former smokers," says another report. (3) Significantly, the vitamin A derivative is used "combined with alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E), in order to reduce toxicity known to be associated with 13-cis-RA (the vitamin A derivative) therapy." This illustrates why orthomolecular (nutritional) physicians do not use high doses of vitamin A by itself, but rather give it in context with other important, synergistic nutrients. A baseball team entirely made up of pitchers might get a lot of strikeouts while in the field, but not hit many home runs when at bat. All nutrients are needed in a living body. Vitamin A is an essential part of the team.

Here is an example: "A study published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry found that administering both vitamin A and vitamin C to cultured human breast cancer cells was more than three times as effective than the administration of either compound alone (since) the combination of the two vitamins inhibited proliferation by 75.7 percent compared to untreated cells. . . The ability of retinoic acid (vitamin A) to inhibit tumor cell proliferation is well known, although its mechanism has not been defined. The authors suggest that the synergistic effect observed in this study is due to ascorbic acid's ability to slow the degradation of retinoic acid, thereby increasing vitamin A's cell proliferation inhibitory effects." (4) Vitamin C helps vitamin A do its work even better, a clear team advantage.

Doctors' experience and clinical evidence both show that vitamin A helps prevent cancer. This has been known for a long time. "The association of vitamin A and cancer was initially reported in 1926 when rats, fed a vitamin A-deficient diet, developed gastric carcinomas. . . The first investigation showing a relationship between vitamin A and human cancer was performed in 1941 by Abelsetal who found low plasma vitamin A levels in patients with gastrointestinal cancer." (5) Moon et al reported daily supplemental doses of 25,000 IU of vitamin A prevented squamous cell carcinoma. And, de Klerk and colleagues reported "findings of significantly lower rates of mesothelioma among subjects assigned to retinol. . . Studies that use animal models have shown that retinoids (including vitamin A) can act in the promotion-progression phase of carcinogenesis and block the development of invasive carcinoma at several epithelial sites, including the head and neck and lung." (5) The Linus Pauling Institute adds, "Studies in cell culture and animal models have documented the capacity for natural and synthetic retinoids to reduce carcinogenesis significantly in skin, breast, liver, colon, prostate, and other sites." (6).

National data from the American Association of Poison Control Centers repeatedly fails to show even one death from vitamin A per year. (7) Vitamin A is very safe. However, pregnancy is a special case where prolonged intake of too much preformed oil-form vitamin A might be harmful to the fetus, even at relatively low levels (under 20,000 IU/day). Interestingly enough, you can get over 100,000 IU of vitamin A from eating only seven ounces of beef liver. Have you ever yet seen a pregnancy overdose warning on a supermarket package of liver?

A lack of vitamin A, especially during pregnancy, and in infancy, poses far greater risks. Deficiency of vitamin A in developing babies is known to cause birth defects, poor tooth enamel, a weakened immune system, and literally hundreds of thousands of cases of blindness per year worldwide. This is why developing countries safely give megadoses of vitamin A to newborns to prevent infant deaths and disease. (8)

There will always be people bent on believing that vitamins must be harmful, somehow. For them, it only remains to set up some test-tubes to try to prove it. Such has been done with other vitamins, perhaps most notably a famous if silly experiment that claimed that vitamin C promoted cancer. The study, reported in New Scientist, 22 September 2001, was a prime example of sketchy science carelessly reported. The article would have readers uncritically extend the questionable findings of a highly artificial, electrical-current-vibrated quartz crystal test tube study, and conclude that 2,000 milligrams of vitamin C can (somehow) do some sort of mischief to human DNA in real life. If two thousand milligrams of vitamin C were harmful, the entire animal kingdom would be dead. Our nearest primate relatives all eat well in excess of 2,000 mg of vitamin C each day. And, pound for pound, most animals actually manufacture from 2,000 to 10,000 mg of vitamin C daily, right inside their bodies. If such generous quantities of vitamin C were harmful, evolution would have had millions of years to select against it. Same with vitamin A. If it "promoted" cancer, every animal eating it would get cancer.

They don't, of course. And, if we consume enough vitamin A, perhaps neither do we. The NIH says, "Dietary intake studies suggest an association between diets rich in beta-carotene and vitamin A and a lower risk of many types of cancer. A higher intake of green and yellow vegetables or other food sources of beta carotene and/or vitamin A may decrease the risk of lung cancer." (9) A study of over 82,000 people showed that high intakes of vitamin A reduce the risk of stomach cancer by one-half. (10) Dr. Jennifer Brett comments that "Vitamin A fights cancer by inhibiting the production of DNA in cancerous cells. It slows down tumor growth in established cancers and may keep leukemia cells from dividing." (11) A derivative of the vitamin has been shown to kill CEM-C7 human T lymphoblastoid leukemia cells and P1798-C7 murine T lymphoma cells. (12)

Vitamin A is very far from being a cancer "promoter." Rather, it is very near to the cancer solution.

References:

(1) Vitamin A Pushes Breast Cancer to Form Blood Vessel Cells. ScienceDaily, July 17, 2008. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080715204719.htm

(2) Drug Slows Prostate Tumor Growth by Keeping Vitamin A Active. November 6, 2007. Findings from the AACR Centennial Conference on Translational Cancer Medicine: From Technology to Treatment, Singapore, November 4-8, 2007 http://www.aacr.org/home/public--media/news/news-archives-2007.aspx?d=922

(3
) Vitamin A derivative could restore smokers' health. http://www.in-pharmatechnologist.com/news/ng.asp?id=26231-vitamin-a-derivative

(4) http://www.lef.org/whatshot/2006_05.htm . See also: Kim KN, Pie JE, Park JH, Park YH, Kim HW, Kim MK. Retinoic acid and ascorbic acid act synergistically in inhibiting human breast cancer cell proliferation. J Nutr Biochem. 2006 Jul;17(7):454-62. Epub 2005 Nov 15.

(5) http://www.bccancer.bc.ca/PPI/UnconventionalTherapies/VitaminARetinol.htm

(6) http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/vitamins/vitaminA/

(7) Annual Reports of the American Association of Poison Control Centers' National Poisoning and Exposure Database (formerly known as the Toxic Exposure Surveillance System). AAPCC, 3201 New Mexico Avenue, Ste. 330, Washington, DC 20016. Download any report from1983-2006 at http://www.aapcc.org/dnn/NPDS/AnnualReports/tabid/125/Default.aspx free of charge. The "Vitamin" category is usually near the end of the report.

(8) Basu S, Sengupta B, Paladhi PK. Single megadose vitamin A supplementation of Indian mothers and morbidity in breastfed young infants. Postgrad Med J. 2003 Jul;79(933):397-402. And: Rahmathullah L, Tielsch JM, Thulasiraj RD et al. Impact of supplementing newborn infants with vitamin A on early infant mortality: community based randomized trial in southern India. BMJ. 2003 Aug 2;327(7409):254.)

(9) http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/vitamina.asp

(10) Larsson SC, Bergkvist L, Näslund I, Rutegård J, Wolk A. Vitamin A, retinol, and carotenoids and the risk of gastric cancer: a prospective cohort study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Feb;85(2):497-503.

(11) Brett, N.D., Jennifer. "How Vitamin A Works." 20 December 2006. HowStuffWorks.com. http://recipes.howstuffworks.com/vitamin-a.htm .

(12) Chan LN, Zhang S, Shao J, Waikel R, Thompson EA, Chan TS. N-(4-hydroxyphenyl)retinamide induces apoptosis in T lymphoma and T lymphoblastoid leukemia cells. Leuk Lymphoma. 1997 Apr;25(3-4):271-80.

For further information: Read full text, peer-reviewed nutritional research papers, free of charge: http://www.orthomolecular.org/library/jom

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Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, October 2, 2008

Vitamin D Stops Cancer; Cuts Risk In Half
American Cancer Society Drags its Feet

(OMNS, October 2, 2008) A new study of 3,299 persons has shown that those with higher levels of vitamin D cut their risk of dying from cancer in half. (1) Another recent study shows that ample intake of vitamin D, about 2,000 IU per day, can cut breast cancer incidence by half. (2) Still more research found that inadequate Vitamin D is "associated with high incidence rates of colorectal cancer" and specifically urges that "prompt public health action is needed to increase intake of Vitamin D-3 to 1000 IU/day." (3)

Vitamin D's anticancer properties are so evident, and so important, that the Canadian Cancer Society now recommends supplementation with 1,000 IU of Vitamin D per day for all adults in winter, and year-round for persons at risk. (4)

The American Cancer Society, however, is dragging its feet, still maintaining that "More research is needed to define the best levels of intake and blood levels of vitamin D for cancer risk reduction." (5)

What is taking them so long?

Researchers in 2006 noted that "The evidence suggests that efforts to improve vitamin D status, for example by vitamin D supplementation, could reduce cancer incidence and mortality at low cost, with few or no adverse effects." (6)

If you search the US National Institutes of Health's Medline online database for "cancer vitamin D," you will find over five thousand papers. . . some dating back nearly 60 years.

It's true: physician reports on vitamin D stopping cancer have been ignored for decades. In 1951, T. Desmonts reported that vitamin D treatment was effective against Hodgkin's disease (a cancer of the lymphatic system). (7) That same year, 57 years ago, massive doses of vitamin D were also observed to improve epithelioma. (8) In 1955, skin cancer was again reported as cured with vitamin D treatment. (9) In 1963, there was a promising investigation done on vitamin D and breast cancer. (10) Then, in 1964, vitamin D was found to be effective against lymph nodal reticulosarcoma, a non-Hodgkin's lymphatic cancer. (11)

The American Cancer Society has been obsessed with finding a drug cure for cancer. Pharmaceutical researchers are not looking for a vitamin cure. And when one is presented, as independent investigators and physicians have continuously been doing since 1951, it is ignored.

No longer. Michael Holick, MD, Boston University Professor of Medicine, has come right out and said it: "We can reduce cancer risk by 30 to 50% by increasing vitamin D. We gave mice colon cancer, and followed them for 20 days. Tumor growth was markedly reduced simply by having vitamin D in the diet. There was a 40% reduction in tumor size. And, casual sun exposure actually decreases your risk of melanoma. Everyone needs 1,000 IU of vitamin D3 each day." (12)

What about safety? Yes, it is possible to get too much vitamin D, but it is not easy. "One man took one million IU of vitamin D per day, orally, for six months, "says Dr Holick. "Of course, he had the symptoms of severe vitamin D intoxication. His treatment was hydration (lots of water), and no more vitamin D or sunshine for a while. He's perfectly happy and healthy. This was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.(13) I have no experience of anyone dying from vitamin exposure. In thirty years, I've never seen it."

There are, of course, some reasonable cautions with its use. Persons with hyperparathyroidism, lymphoma, lupus erythematosus, tuberculosis, sarcoidosis, kidney disease, or those taking digitalis, calcium channel-blockers, or thiazide diuretics, should have physician supervision before and while taking extra vitamin D. And when employing large doses of vitamin D, periodic testing is advisable.

But 1,000 IU per day of vitamin D is simple and safe. Some authorities recommend much more. (14, 15) The American Cancer Society recommends less.

What a shame.

References:

(1) Pilz S, Dobnig H, Winklhofer-Roob B et al. Low serum levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D predict fatal cancer in patients referred to coronary angiography. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2008 May;17(5):1228-33. Epub 2008 May 7.

(2) Garland CF, Gorham ED, Mohr SB et al. Vitamin D and prevention of breast cancer: pooled analysis. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol, 2007. Mar;103(3-5):708-11.

(3) Gorham ED, Garland CF, Garland FC, Grant WB, Mohr SB, Lipkin M, Newmark HL, Giovannucci E, Wei M, Holick MF. Vitamin D and prevention of colorectal cancer. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2005 Oct;97(1-2):179-94.

(4) http://www.cancer.ca/Canada-wide/About%20us/Media%20centre/CW-Media%20releases/CW-2007/Canadian%20Cancer%20Society%20Announces%20Vitamin%20D%20Recommendation.aspx?sc_lang=en

(5) http://www.cancer.org/docroot/PED/content/PED_3_2X_Diet_and_Activity_Factors_That_Affect_Risks.asp Accessed Aug 29, 2008.

(6) Garland CF, Garland FC, Gorham ED, Lipkin M, Newmark H, Mohr SB, Holick MF. The role of vitamin D in cancer prevention. Am J Public Health. 2006 Feb;96(2):252-61.

(7) Desmonts T, Duclos M, Dalmau. [Favorable effect of vitamin D on the evolution of a case of Hodgkin's disease.] Sang. 1951;22(1):74-5. And: DESMONTS T. [Favorable action of vitamin D in leukemic erythroderma and Hodgkin's disease.] Pathol Gen. 1951 Mar;51(326):161-4. Also: VACCARI R. [Vitamin D2 and experimental carcinogenesis.] Boll Soc Ital Biol Sper. 1952 Aug-Oct;28(8-10):1567-9.

(8) Sainz de Aja Ea. [Case of an epithelioma in a patient treated with massive doses of vitamin D.] Actas Dermosifiliogr. 1951 Nov;43(2):169-70.

(9) Linser P. [Spontaneous cure of skin carcinoma by vitamin D treatment.] Dermatol Wochenschr. 1955;132(40):1072-3. German.

(10) Gordan GS, Schachter D. Vitamin D activity of normal and neoplastic human breast tissue. Proc Soc Exp Biol Med. 1963 Jul;113:760-1.

(11) Desmonts T, Blin J. [Action of Vitamin D3 on the course of a lymph nodal reticulosarcoma.] Rev Pathol Gen Physiol Clin. 1964 Mar;64:137. French.

(12) Andrew W. Saul Interviews Michael F. Holick, MD, PhD. http://www.doctoryourself.com/holick.html

(13) Koutkia P, Chen TC, Holick MF. Vitamin D intoxication associated with an over-the-counter supplement. N Engl J Med. 2001 Jul 5;345(1):66-7.

(14) Vitamin D Boosts Health, Cuts Cancer Risk in Half. Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, October 3, 2007. http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v03n06.shtml

(15) Doctors Say, Raise the RDAs Now. Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, October 30, 2007. http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v03n10.shtml

For more information:

Saul AW. Vitamin D: Deficiency, diversity and dosage. J Orthomolecular Med, 2003. Vol 18, No 3 and 4, p 194-204. http://www.doctoryourself.com/dvitamin.htm

Online access to free archive of nutritional medicine journal papers: http://orthomolecular.org/library/jom/

A free, non-commercial vitamin D newsletter is available from John Cannell, M.D., and the Vitamin D Council: http://www.vitamindcouncil.org

Sunlight, Nutrition And Health Research Center: http://www.sunarc.org

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Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, October 21, 2008

Vitamin B6 Reduces Colon Cancer
Intake is Often "Inadequate" Even When it Exceeds the RDA

(OMNS, October 21, 2008) A study of almost 5,000 persons has shown that consuming more vitamin B6 means less colon cancer. (1) The researchers described the connection as "moderately strong." Any nutrient that has a "moderately strong" influence on reducing colon cancer risk is very important indeed. Almost 150,000 Americans are annually diagnosed with colon cancer; nearly 55,000 die every single year. Other authors, reviewing previous studies, have said the same thing: B6 substantially reduces colon cancer risk. (2,3)

Many of us are not getting nearly enough B6 from our diets. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (May, 2008) published a study of nearly 8,000 people showing that B6 inadequacy is common throughout the United States. "Across the study population," the authors said, "we noticed participants with inadequate vitamin B6 status even though they reported consuming more than the Recommended Daily Allowance of vitamin B6, which is less than 2 milligrams per day." Three out of four women using oral contraceptives are vitamin B6 deficient, unless they also take vitamin B6 supplements. Smokers and the elderly are also especially likely to be at risk. Remarkably, even among people who take B6 supplements, one in ten is still B6 deficient. (4)

This indicates that we might better take more B6. But many won't. This is because the public has been warned off of supplementing with this vitamin. So irrational is this fear that, at one point, a so-called "Safe Upper Limit" for daily B6 intake was set at only 10 mg. (6) That was only about six times the US RDA/DRI. Who set such a "limit"? Not the voters, that's for sure. An unelected committee did it, one created by the National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Medicine's Food and Nutrition Board. (5) They have, in a manner of speaking, recently admitted that they were wrong. The "Safe Upper Limit" is now 100 mg.

That is more like it, but still too low. Alan Gaby, M.D., in reviewing B6 toxicity, wrote that adverse effects from B6 (pyridoxine) were occurring in people taking "2,000 mg/day or more of pyridoxine, although some were taking only 500 mg/day. There is a single case report of a neuropathy occurring in a person taking 200 mg/day of pyridoxine, but the reliability of that case report is unclear. The individual in question was never examined, but was merely interviewed by telephone after responding to a local television report that publicized pyridoxine-induced neuropathy." Dr Gaby adds that there have been no reports of B6 side effects at under 200 mg/day. (6)

Modern processed, low-nutrient diets are not providing anything close to 200 milligrams. In fact, they typically provide less that 1% of that amount. You can get some B-6 from food, if you really like to eat whole grains, seeds and organ meats. A goodly slice of beef liver contains a whopping 1.2 mg of B-6. Chicken liver is only 0.6 mg per serving, and most other foods contain less. Avocados (0.5 mg each) and bananas (0.7 mg each) lead the pyridoxine league for fruits. Potatoes (0.7 mg each) and nuts (especially filberts, peanuts and walnuts) are fairly good vegetable sources.

But people are not eating nuts, seeds, vegetables, and liver. What they are eating is way too many nutrient-poor junk foods. Our diets are low in B6, yet B6 reduces risk of colon cancer. Clearly supplementation is the way to go.

References:

(1) Theodoratou E, Farrington SM, Tenesa A et al. Dietary vitamin B6 intake and the risk of colorectal cancer. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2008 Jan;17(1):171-82.

(2) Matsubara K, Komatsu S, Oka T, Kato N. Vitamin B6-mediated suppression of colon tumorigenesis, cell proliferation, and angiogenesis (review). J Nutr Biochem. 2003 May;14(5):246-50. See also: Komatsu S, Yanaka N, Matsubara K, Kato N. Antitumor effect of vitamin B6 and its mechanisms. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2003 Apr 11;1647(1-2):127-30. "Epidemiological studies have reported an inverse association between vitamin B(6) intake and colon cancer risk." http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12686121

(3) Zhang SM et al. Folate, vitamin B6, multivitamin supplements, and colorectal cancer risk in women. Am J Epidemiol. 2006 January 15; 163(2): 108-115. http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/163/2/108 .

(4) Morris MS, Picciano MF, Jacques PF, Selhub J. Plasma pyridoxal 5'-phosphate in the US population: the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2003-2004. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 May;87(5):1446-54. See also: http://www.lef.org/whatshot/2008_05.htm#Vitamin-B6-RDA-questioned

(5) http://www.iom.edu/CMS/3788/3971.aspx

(6) Gaby AR. "Safe Upper Limits" for nutritional supplements: one giant step backward. J Orthomolecular Med, 2003, Vol 18, No 3&4, p 126-130. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0ISW/is_243/ai_109946551 and http://www.iahf.com/20040127.html

Many full-text nutrition therapy papers are posted for free access at http://orthomolecular.org/library/jom .

The peer-reviewed Orthomolecular Medicine News Service is a non-profit and non-commercial informational resource.

Editorial Review Board:

Damien Downing, M.D.
Harold D. Foster, Ph.D.
Steve Hickey, Ph.D.
Abram Hoffer, M.D., Ph.D.
James A. Jackson, PhD
Bo H. Jonsson, MD, Ph.D
Thomas Levy, M.D., J.D.
Erik Paterson, M.D.
Gert E. Shuitemaker, Ph.D.

Andrew W. Saul, Editor

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Andrew Saul is the author of the books FIRE YOUR DOCTOR! How to be Independently Healthy (reader reviews at http://www.doctoryourself.com/review.html ) and DOCTOR YOURSELF: Natural Healing that Works. (reviewed at http://www.doctoryourself.com/saulbooks.html )

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Andrew W. Saul

 


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