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Vitamin B Intake May Reduce the Risk of Colorectal Cancer

A recent study found that the highest average intakes of vitamin B6 and riboflavin were both associated with a 20% lower risk of colorectal cancer in postmenopausal women when compared with the lowest average intake.

The study included 88,045 postmenopausal women who participated in the Women's Health Initiative Observational Study. The women were recruited between 1993 and 1998 and were followed until 2009. During that time, 1,003 incidences of colorectal cancer were recorded.

Participants who consumed more than 3.88 mg per day of vitamin B6 had a 20% reduction in colorectal cancer compared to participants who consumed less than 1.52 mg per day. Additionally, participants who consumed more than 3.97 mg per day of riboflavin had a 20% lower risk of colorectal cancer compared to participants who consumed less than 1.8 mg per day.

The researchers also found that there was an initial spike in colorectal cancers when foods were first fortified with dietary folate in 1998. However, they attribute this to the fact that in the early stages of implementation, many fortified foods contained more than the recommended levels of dietary folate.

This study was conducted at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle and the National Center for Tumor Diseases in Germany. It was published in the January 2013 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

B vitamins have been linked to numerous health benefits, including reducing breast cancer risk, nervous system function, red blood cell formation, and hormone function. Studies have also suggested that B vitamins may reduce the risk of stroke, hearing loss, and birth defects.

Vitamin B6 is found in a variety of foods, including fish, beef liver, chickpeas, potatoes and bananas. Foods high in riboflavin include almonds, cheese, wheat bran, fish, sun dried tomatoes and sesame seeds. If your diet does not contain enough of these foods, you could consider supplementing with a high quality multivitamin or vitamin B supplement.

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