Vitamin B6 May Reduce Colorectal Cancer Risk

Increased intake of vitamin B6 from dietary and supplements may reduce the risk of colorectal cancer by over 50%, suggests a new Harvard study.

Each year, almost 150,000 Americans are diagnosed with colon cancer, and nearly 55,000 die from the disease. A new report from the Physicians' Health Study, which involves 22,000 male doctors, suggests that vitamin B6 helps reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.

Blood levels of the vitamin were measured and those with the highest levels had a 53% reduced risk. The protection appeared to be independent of levels of other B vitamins and may work through reducing oxidative stress. Vitamin B6 is known to be vital for DNA production, so lack of it might lead to the kind of DNA damage that is associated with cancer.

The study by researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School was published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention. Last year, the same journal published similar findings from Scotland-based researchers. They reported that increased intakes of vitamin B6 from dietary and supplements may reduce the risk of colorectal cancer by over 20%.

A previous Swedish study involving 60,000 women also found that women who consumed lower levels of vitamin B6 had a higher chance of developing colorectal cancer than those who consumed large quantities.

Good food sources of vitamin B6 include fortified cereals, fish, nuts, legumes, meat, bell peppers, bananas, avocados, potatoes and greens such as spinach, turnip, collard, mustard, kale and chard.

But many of us are not getting nearly enough B6 from our diets. In 2008, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 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."

To ensure that you are getting enough vitamin B6, take a complete nutritional supplement such as Basic Nutrient Support that includes the full spectrum of vitamins. Because of its many varied essential functions, B6 is also included in Cardiovascular Support, Memory & Mental Support, and Stress Support.