Too Much of These Popular Vitamins Dramatically Increases Lung Cancer in Some Men

Too Much of These Popular Vitamins Dramatically Increases Lung Cancer in Some Men

Supplements can be good.  If you combine these common energizing vitamins with smoking though, you may be setting yourself up for trouble.

Are you a fan of energy drinks? The ones that promise to boost your fuel and get you through the day with an added bang? They taste great. And when you need something more than coffee, they do the trick.

But while they can indeed increase your energy levels in the moment, if you’re drinking too many, the extra vitamin B supplements you’re getting could have dire consequences for your health down the line.

A new study has found that taking too much vitamin B6 and B12 can dramatically increase lung cancer in men, particularly in those who smoke.

It’s been broadly believed that these supplements actually reduce your risk of cancer, and so the findings are surprising.

Three Times More Likely

If you smoke, too much vitamins B6 and B12 can give you lung cancer.a

The study was done by researchers at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center. It involved analyzing the health and supplementation habits of men between the ages of 50 and 76 in the state of Washington.

When the participants enrolled, they reported to researchers the amount of vitamin B they’d taken regularly over the past 10 years. The type of vitamins take was included as well as daily dosage information.

To make sure that the results weren’t skewed by unrelated factors, researchers adjusted for numerous factors including personal smoking history, age, race, education, body size and alcohol consumption.

They also considered each participant’s personal history of cancer or chronic lung disease, family history of lung cancer and their use of anti-inflammatory drugs.

Related: 10 Tips From Someone Who Did It: From Cleaning Your Car to Sniffing Ashtrays, Here’s How to Quit Smoking

What was found? Men who took high-dose vitamin B6 and B12 supplements for a decade had a significantly higher risk of developing lung cancer, especially if they smoked while taking the supplements.

More precisely, men who smoked and took more than 20 mg of B6 each day for 10 years were three times more likely to develop lung cancer, compared with those who didn’t take the supplements.

And men taking B12 at the same doses for the same amount of time were about 4 times more likely to develop the deadly disease.


If you smoke, too much vitamins B6 and B12 can give you lung cancer.a

It’s true- most men won’t encounter this problem. Many forego supplements. And taking vitamin B at the levels in the study means you’re ingesting many times the U.S. Recommended Dietary Allowance, which most people likely aren’t doing.

Still, it’s a cautionary tale. Vitamin B supplements are said to fight off a plethora of conditions.  From memory loss to fatigue, bad hearing, anemia, confusion, tinnitus, pain perception and nerve problems, these seem to have it covered.

Related: How Smoking Actually Mutates Your DNA

And for these reasons, they’re often promoted as being very beneficial. In fact, they’re seen by some as a natural ‘wonder drug’.

But consider this. According to this online source, one can of Red Bull has over 250% of your daily recommended intake of vitamin B6. It also has 84% of your daily B12 intake. So, throw back a couple of these puppies after work and already you’re way over the limit.

What’s a better bet? Try some chocolate milk after hitting the gym.  Or even as a refresher, midday. It’s full of protein and has the energy to keep you going…and it will keep you in the clear a decade later.

Photo credits: Chubarov Mikhail/; Andrey_Popov/; Ash Pollard/

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