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article imageData science reveals vitamin B cancer risk

By Tim Sandle     Aug 27, 2017 in Science
New research, based on big data analytics, has drawn a connection between cancer and taking high quantities of B vitamins. The research additionally shows the advantages of data driven science.
The research is based on a review of medical records over the long-term. It looks at patterns of smoking, dosing with B vitamins, and lung cancer. The research focuses on men, and the headline statement is that men, aged between 50 and 76 years, who smoked and took large doses of vitamins B6 or B12 significantly increased their risk of lung cancer.
Boiling down the research into more detail, the study found that men who took high doses of vitamin B6 (with 'high' being defined as 20 milligrams or more per day) increased their likelihood, in they were smokers, of developing lung cancer by more than 30 percent. This involved taking B6 over a ten year period. The analysis of the same data set found that when the same target group took 55 micrograms of B12 each day increased the likelihood of developing lung cancer by more than 40 percent. This was over a similar ten year period.
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The data was drawn from the SEER (Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results) database. This data gathering exercise began in 1973 and it assembles data related to cancer incidence and survival from people based across the U.S. Recent advances in digitalization and big data analytics have allowed new and varied patterns to be drawn from the database.
The reason why this data review is important is that although the levels of B vitamins consumed exceeded the recommended allowances in most countries, there is a developing tendency with some people to 'overdose' on B vitamins, under the assumption that this helps to boost energy levels or lower cholesterol.
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The reason for the association, according to lead researcher Dr. Theodore Brasky, from The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center, is because excessive B vitamin consumption interferes with the way the body makes new DNA and repairs existing DNA within the pathway that can allow lung cancer to spread. As the researcher told Popular Science: “When you disrupt this pathway, it stands to reason that there can be consequences." The study is, however, based on association and the population analyzed were from the U.S. only. Further data analytics looking at other surveys will be needed to confirm or deny the observations.
The data science based research is published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. The study is titled "Long-Term, Supplemental, One-Carbon Metabolism–Related Vitamin B Use in Relation to Lung Cancer Risk in the Vitamins and Lifestyle (VITAL) Cohort."
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