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B-vitamin supplementation halves chance of aggressive skin cancer

People who take supplements containing extra B vitamins may be less likely to develop melanoma - the most aggressive form of skin cancer - than people who do not take these supplements. Chinese researchers at Shanghai Seventh People's Hospital write about this in Medicine.

Most forms of skin cancer are not particularly dangerous, but melanoma is an exception. This is the kind of skin cancer that can develop as a result of exposure to too much sunlight, and often begins as an old or new mole or freckle.

B-vitamin supplementation halves chance of aggressive skin cancer

If you don't get a melanoma removed in time your prognosis is likely to be bad.

The researchers gathered data from 18 previously published studies in which the participants had been given extra B vitamins. These were mostly folic acid, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12. The researchers collated the results from the different trials and re-analysed the accumulated data. The only thing they looked at was the number of participants who had developed cancer.

B-vitamin supplementation had no influence on the incidence of cancer of almost any type. However, there was one exception: B-vitamin supplementation reduced the chance of melanoma by 53 percent.

B-vitamin supplementation halves chance of aggressive skin cancer

"Considering specific cancer types, vitamin B significantly reduced the risk of skin melanoma, but did not have any significant effect on other types of cancers," the researchers wrote. They did not give any indication of how B vitamins might reduce this risk. But they don't believe their discovery is a matte of coincidence.

The researchers do refer to a previously published meta-study on the effects of folic acid supplementation and the risk of developing cancer. [Int J Cancer. 2013 Sep 1;133(5):1033-41.] This study revealed that folic acid intake had little influence on most types of cancer, but did reduce the chance of developing melanoma.

Medicine (Baltimore). 2016 Aug;95(31):e3485.


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