Vitamin B6 appears to play a beneficial role in preventing colon cancer, a study published on Tuesday concluded.
Researchers led by Susanna Larsson of Sweden's National Institute of Environmental medicine traced the beneficial effects to pyridoxal-phosphate (PLP), the main active coenzyme form of vitamin B6.
"Vitamin B6 intake and blood PLP levels were inversely related with the risk of colorectal cancer," the study said.
Vitamin B6 is found in cereals, vegetables, poultry and fish as well as in some fruits like bananas and avocados.
Published in a special edition of the Journal of American Medical Association, the study analysed 13 other US, European and Asian studies conducted between 2002 and 2009.
In the United States, according to JAMA, 20% of men and 40% of women over the age of 50 do not take in sufficient vitamin B6.
While taking vitamin B6 supplements did not appear to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer, increases in the level of PLP in the bloodstream were associated with an inversely lower risk of colorectal cancer.
The authors believe that these studies could contain distortions because individuals who take vitamin B6 tend to have healthy behaviour, such as less smoking and alcohol and higher physical activity.
But studies that compared the effects of taking weak to high doses of vitamin B6 also showed "a statistically significant 21% reduction in colorectal cancer risk" at higher doses. - (Sapa/AFP, March 2010)