Nutrient - Multivitamins may cut lung cancer risk in smokers
In the past, studies have suggested that dietary fruits and vegetables, and the nutrients they contain, may reduce the risk of lung cancer by helping to decrease a process called methylation. An excessive amount of methylation can change the genetic material inside cells and lead to cancer cell formation. In fact, in lung cancer, genetic material that has been over-methylated can actually be detected in samples of lung contents or sputum. Now a new study, supported by the US National Cancer Institute, has shown that regular use of multivitamins could also help to reduce these methylation processes.
During the study, 1,101 current and former smokers submitted sputum samples and completed questionnaires, to assess their food and supplement intakes. The sputum samples were used to examine the degree of methylation of eight genes commonly linked to lung cancer risk. The results showed that people who ate at least 12 servings of green leafy vegetables per month had a 17% lower risk of methylation, while a daily folate intake of at least 750 micrograms was associated with a 16% lower risk. However, by far the most significant risk reduction was seen among current multivitamin users, who had a 43% lower risk of methylation than non-supplement users.
The authors concluded their study by stating: “Novel interventions to prevent lung cancer should be developed based on the ability of diet and dietary supplements to affect reprogramming of the epigenome (body’s genetic material)”.
Source: C.A. Stidley et al. (2010) “Multi-Vitamins, Folate, and Green Vegetables Protect Against Gene Promoter Methylation in the Aerodigestive Tract of Smokers” Cancer Research. Epub ahead of print.