B Vitamins Protect Seniors From Cancer
While headlines this week blared that a study conducted at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School found that B vitamins did not protect against cancer, the media virtually ignored the fact that the study found substantial protection in those over 65.
The study followed over 5,400 women who had high blood pressure or high cholesterol and were at high risk of developing cardiovascular disease. The women, whose average age was 63, were followed for seven and a half years.
Researchers examined the effects of taking a daily supplement containing folic acid and vitamins B6 and B12. During the study, 379 cases of invasive cancer were diagnosed. Although the vitamin group had a total of five fewer cancers than the placebo group (187 vs. 192), the researchers concluded there was no significant difference. But in women over the age of 65, they found a reduction of 25 percent in the risk of developing any type of cancer and a 38 percent reduction in the risk of developing breast cancer.
Lead author Shumin Zhang wrote: “The results may have public health significance because the incidence rates of cancer are high in elderly persons. The finding is biologically plausible because elderly individuals have increased requirements for these B vitamins.”
Other studies have found that people who have diets high in folic acid lower their risk of developing cancer.
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