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B12 And Prostate Cancer: A Connection?

Written by Wellness Club on June 7, 2013 – 3:08 pm -

By Nurse Mark

 

Ahh, the Internet – a wild and woolly place. Full of lies, damned lies, and statistics. Serving up a never-ending smorgasbord of fact, fiction, conjecture, and opinion. Providing “authoritative research” from such diverse locations as one man’s laboratory notes to another man’s easy chair fantasies.

Our patients and readers are constantly bombarded with well-meaning but often erroneous “medical information” that is often based on the misunderstanding of a research paper or, worse yet, some news reporter’s sensationalized mis-reporting of the results of research.

This results in endless fear and confusion as folks struggle to sort out the good, the bad, and the ugly in terms of medical information. Fortunately, many people have the good sense to ask Dr. Myatt to help them separate the wheat from the chaff…

Here is one fellow’s question:

50 year old male considering b12 supplementation because of tiredness/memory problems but concerned about the link between prostate cancer and b12 levels.

 

Well, a quick “Google-search” for this subject turns up some frightening posts in places like prostate cancer survivors websites and a vegan chat boards. These posts are based on the the selective reading of a number of studies that have been done on the relationships between B Vitamins and cancers. None of the studies actually say that vitamin B12 causes prostate cancer, though one might be excused for thinking so based on the breathless posts on some of these chat forums.

What the studies do say, in essence, is that there is little or no correlation between folate or B Vitamins and prostate cancer until the blood levels of these nutrients become very high – at which time there appears to be a small increase in risk for prostate cancer.

Here are what some of the studies have to say:

 

First, a 2003 study, funded by the National Cancer Institute:

Null Association between Prostate Cancer and Serum Folate, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, and Homocysteine

Serum folate, B6, B12, and homocysteine were not associated with prostate cancer risk. There was no evidence of effect modification by age, intervention group, smoking, body mass index, BPH, or intake of folate, B6, B12, or methionine; however, the association between homocysteine and prostate cancer risk was modified significantly by alcohol intake, with a positive association observed among those who consumed more alcohol and a modest inverse association among those who consumed less alcohol. Consistent with this, an opposite pattern was observed for serum folate (interaction not significant). We observed no material differences in the associations based on disease stage.

 

Europe, 2008:

Circulating concentrations of folate and vitamin B12 in relation to prostate cancer risk: results from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition study.

CONCLUSION:
This study does not provide strong support for an association between prostate cancer risk and circulating concentrations of folate or vitamin B(12). Elevated concentrations of vitamin B(12) may be associated with an increased risk for advanced stage prostate cancer, but this association requires examination in other large prospective studies.

 

And Norway, 2013:

Serum folate and vitamin B12 concentrations in relation to prostate cancer risk–a Norwegian population-based nested case-control study of 3000 cases and 3000 controls within the JANUS cohort.

CONCLUSION:
This large-scale population-based study suggests that high serum folate concentration may be associated with modestly increased prostate cancer risk. We did not observe an association between vitamin B12 status and prostate cancer risk.

 

Now, I do not consider myself to be an authority on the subject of prostate cancer – but my reading of these studies and numerous others leads me to conclude that unless I’m going to “go overboard” and take very large doses of folate or vitamin B12 I’m not really going to worry about it causing my prostate to become cancerous.

Indeed, given the very serious consequences of Folate and B12 deficiency (and the fact that I like the “energy boost”) I am personally fond of a product called B-12 Extreme  – a top quality formulation that contains all 4 forms of vitamin B12. I also use Maxi Multi every day which provides me with an optimal amount of folate.

Please take a moment to read about B-12 Extreme here.

For more information about vitamin B12 please see our Medical White Paper Is Science On The Verge of an ME/CFS Breakthrough? The Vitamin B12 – ME/CFS Connection.

My conclusion?

 

I don’t know enough about the fellow who asked this question to be able to make any recommendation specific to him – there could be a dozen other things going on in his life that I’m not aware of.

However – Tiredness and memory problems can certainly be associated with deficient vitamin B12 levels. Unless there is active prostate cancer going on, sensible supplementation with vitamin B12 would seem a reasonable course of action.

 

References:

 

Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2008 Feb;17(2):279-85.
Circulating concentrations of folate and vitamin B12 in relation to prostate cancer risk: results from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition study. Johansson M, et.al
Source: Department of Surgical and Perioperative Sciences, Urology and Andrology, Umeå University, Sweden.
CONCLUSION:
This study does not provide strong support for an association between prostate cancer risk and circulating concentrations of folate or vitamin B(12). Elevated concentrations of vitamin B(12) may be associated with an increased risk for advanced stage prostate cancer, but this association requires examination in other large prospective studies.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18268110
and
In conclusion, this study does not provide support for the hypothesis that circulating concentrations of folate or
vitamin B12 are related to prostate cancer risk. Further prospective studies are needed to investigate the possible
association between high concentrations of vitamin B12 and increased risk of advanced stage prostate cancer.
http://cebp.aacrjournals.org/content/17/2/279
Access the most recent version of this article at:
http://cebp.aacrjournals.org/content/17/2/279.full.pdf

Int J Epidemiol. 2013 Feb;42(1):201-10.
Serum folate and vitamin B12 concentrations in relation to prostate cancer risk–a Norwegian population-based nested case-control study of 3000 cases and 3000 controls within the JANUS cohort.
de Vogel S, Meyer K, et.al.
Source: Department of Public Health and Primary Health Care, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway.
CONCLUSION:
This large-scale population-based study suggests that high serum folate concentration may be associated with modestly increased prostate cancer risk. We did not observe an association between vitamin B12 status and prostate cancer risk.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23508410

American Association for Cancer Research
Null Association between Prostate Cancer and Serum Folate, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, and Homocysteine
Stephanie J. Weinstein et.al.
Serum folate, B6, B12, and homocysteine were not associated with prostate cancer risk (Table 1)⇓ . There was no evidence of effect modification by age, intervention group, smoking, body mass index, BPH, or intake of folate, B6, B12, or methionine; however, the association between homocysteine and prostate cancer risk was modified significantly by alcohol intake (p interaction = 0.04), with a positive association observed among those who consumed more alcohol (OR = 1.71 and 95% CI = 0.76–3.83 for highest versus lowest quartile) and a modest inverse association among those who consumed less alcohol. Consistent with this, an opposite pattern was observed for serum folate (interaction not significant). We observed no material differences in the associations based on disease stage.
http://cebp.aacrjournals.org/content/12/11/1271.long

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