Vitamin B or Omega-3 Fatty-Acid Supplements Cannot Reduce Cancer Mortality

The study which was designed as a secondary cardiovascular disease prevention study has proved that the incidence of cancer, its risks and even the mortality rate due to it cannot be reduced by the supplementation of vitamin B and omega-3 fatty-acid even over a significant period of five years.


The Supplementation with Folate, Vitamins B6 and B12 and/or Omega-3 Fatty Acids Study also known as the SU.FOL.OM3 Study has shown the failure of these supplements in preventing cancer and its associated risks in patients suffering from cardiovascular disease. However, the study revealed a new and an important interaction by sex, with women taking omega-3 fatty acids at an augmented risk for cancer. Since there were only 29 cases in females in comparison to the 145 cases in males, the researchers restrained from going deep into the increased cancer risks in women. The study chiefly revealed the poor or nil effects of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin B on the vital vascular events.


The inconsistency across trials triggered the need for such a study as some studies advocated a protective effect with omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin B while others did not. Over 2501 individuals between the age group of 45 to 80 were divided in a 2×2 factorial design to one of four study arms: 5-methlytetrahyrdofolate 0.56 mg, 3-mg vitamin B6, and 0.02-mg vitamin B12; eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acid 600 mg; B vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids; or placebo. On being treated with supplements of vitamin B and Omega-3 fatty acids for over a period of five years, new incidence of cancer was found in 7.0% of patients while deaths due to cancer were reported in 2.3% of the population. Out of the total death count 47 deaths in men (2.4%) and 11 deaths in women (2.1%) were observed.

The outcomes of this research also supported the observation of the Study of the Effectiveness of Additional Reductions in Cholesterol and Homocysteine (SEARCH), according to which, in comparison with placebo in a trial in more than 12000 MI survivors, an addiction to folic acid and vitamin B did not have any effect on vascular events.

Throwing some more light on the study, the lead investigator Dr. Valentina Andreeva said, “People should be very careful when deciding to self-medicate with these dietary supplements because they are active substances. Taking these supplements without a physician’s advice and over the long term might not be a good idea.”


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