Is there anything we can do, on our own, to help prevent pancreatic cancer, one of the most heinous cancer types there is?
According to the American Cancer Society at the time of this writing, the combined (combining diagnoses of all stages of the cancer) five-year survival rate for those diagnosed with pancreatic cancer is an abysmal 12 percent.
So anything we can do on our own to help prevent pancreatic cancer is obviously important to know.
A meta-analysis on reduction of risk of pancreatic cancer
Researchers from Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China performed a meta-analysis on the existing research to determine if a correlation could be found between vitamin B6, vitamin B12, and/or methionine and risk of pancreatic cancer, and published their results in Nutrition Journal in 2020.
Given the prevalence of higher-quality vitamin B6 and B12 supplements these days, the results may be of particular interest to us.
While they found no correlation between vitamin B12 and lowered risk of pancreatic cancer, they did find a correlation between vitamin B6 and pancreatic cancer to the tune of a reduction of risk of 37 percent for the highest intake of the vitamin versus the lowest intake, among those studied.
What can we take from this study?
Does this mean we should just start slamming down vitamin B6 pills every chance we get and hope for the best?
Of course you already know the answer to that question is no.
There is certainly such thing as too much of a good vitamin so you want to be sure to not overdo it.
Vitamin B6 is present in many common foods, such as milk, eggs, beef, and many types of fish, among other vegetables and even fruits like bananas. This means some simple adjustments to your diet may put you in a good position without having to take additional supplements. And perhaps you already are getting enough B6 without making any changes.
Also, while the results are promising, there are also a couple of caveats we must be aware of.
First of all, the researchers note that there is a need for randomized clinical trials in this area, as opposed to the observational studies that were available to them at the time of their meta-analysis.
Additionally, they note that there was not much in the way of data surrounding high doses of these vitamins. More studies analyzing high dose intakes of vitamin B6 may yield better, or more accurate, data. Especially since there appears to be a dose-dependent response to this vitamin, more studies looking at a wider range of intakes can help us identify whether or not there really is an ideal range.
Lastly, while they did find an inverse association with risk of pancreatic cancer and vitamin B6 intake in most populations studied, for some reason those studied from Europe did not show show such an association. Perhaps this can be better understood with additional studies, including those randomized clinical trials mentioned earlier, as well as more studies with higher doses. Perhaps with additional research we might find the Europeans to also enjoy a reduction of risk, or perhaps we might find the rest of the world closer to where the Europeans’ results stand, or some other result altogether. In any case, there are still questions to be answered.
So, as per usual, the first piece of advice is to discuss these findings and any changes you are thinking of making to your diet, lifestyle, or even treatment plans with your licensed healthcare practitioner. Everything posted on this website, including this article, is for informational purposes only, so any action should be taken in consultation with a licensed professional.
The second piece of advice is to continue enjoying your pursuit of great!
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