Folic Acid and Vitamin B6, B12 Supplements do not offer Lowered Cancer Risk

Researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School have found that supplements of folic acid, vitamins B6 and B12 neither reduce nor increase the risk of breast or other invasive cancers in women.

For the study, researchers affiliated with the Women's Antioxidant and Folic Acid Cardiovascular Study (WAFACS) and involved 8171 women aged 42 and older, all of whom were at high risk of cardiovascular disease. The participants were randomly divided into three groups and given either 2.5 mg of folic acid, 50 mg of vitamin B6, 1 mg of vitamin B12 or a placebo from 1998 to 2005.

The results recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that there was no difference in the incidence of any single type of cancer between patients taking supplementation compared with those receiving placebo and neither was there any differences in death from cancer between the two groups.

The researchers said that although the role of diet in cancer is of major interest, it is becoming more apparent that though diet may drastically reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer, this benefit is not evident in supplements. The supplements did not offer much protection against cardiovascular disease either.

"Treatment with combined folic acid, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 provided neither beneficial nor harmful effects on overall risk of total cancer, breast cancer or deaths from cancer among women at high risk for CVD."