The Role of B Vitamins in Breast Cancer

Low levels of B12 could put women at higher risk of breast cancer

Low levels of B12 could put women at higher risk of breast cancer

There is conflicting evidence surrounding the role B vitamins play in breast cancer. What we do know is that B vitamins are essential for growth, development, and a variety of other bodily functions. They play a major role in the activities of enzymes, proteins that regulate chemical reactions in the body, which are important in turning food into energy and other needed substances. Several recent studies have suggested that reduced levels of B12 and B9 could put women at an increased risk of developing breast cancer.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University reported that women with breast cancer tend to have lower vitamin B12 levels in their blood serum than women without breast cancer. The scientists determined vitamin B12 concentrations in blood samples obtained in 1974 and in 1989 and compared the levels found in 195 women who later developed breast cancer with the levels found in 195 women free of cancer. They found that postmenopausal women with the lowest serum levels of vitamin B12 had a 2.5-4.0 times greater likelihood of being in the breast cancer group than did women with the highest levels. They found no correlation between breast cancer risk and serum levels of folic acid (B9), vitamin B6, and homocysteine.

In a subsequent review of the findings Dr. Sang-Woon Choi, MD of Tufts University points out that serum levels of B9 are a poor indicator of levels in tissues and that it may well be that there is a correlation between B9 levels in breast tissue and breast cancer risk. Dr. Choi speculated that a vitamin B12 deficiency may lead to breast cancer because it could result in less folate (B9) being available to ensure proper DNA replication and repair.

A study by researchers from Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center and the Shanghai Cancer Institute indicates that women who get adequate amounts of folate (B9) in their diet have a reduced risk of developing breast cancer, although the benefit appears linked to a woman’s menopausal status.

The study found that women who had not yet reached menopause and who had the highest average intake of folate had a 40 percent reduced risk of developing breast cancer. The results were published in the American Journal of Epidemiology. Lead study author, Martha Shrubsole concluded, “We don’t have evidence that an extremely high intake of folate protects against breast cancer, but it appears that low folate levels may increase a premenopausal woman’s risk of developing breast cancer.”

While there is still research to be done, medical professionals, scientists and health experts all agree that B vitamins are integral to the body’s ability to function well. To get the most benefits from any of the B’s, you need all of them, so start with a B-complex supplement that contains a combination. Vital B Plus from Dr. Newton’s Naturals contains potent doses of the B vitamins as well as a powerful blend of antioxidants (Vitamins C, E and manganese). The water-soluble formula is easy to digest and gentle on your stomach.