Energy. If you’re not taking vitamin B, you probably don’t have it. Poppin’ a B12 is a simple, easy way to help your body make DNA, ward off anemia, boost brain function and better your response to stress.
The problem? It’s inexpensive, effective, and all sorts of amazing. There’s really no better way to create an unnecessary need to regulate something that kills about zero people each year than to scare the masses into thinking it causes cancer, right?
Enter the Journal of Clinical Oncology, CNN, and The Atlantic who set out to stretch a cohort study by cross-stitching a relationship between vitamin B supplementation and cancer that simply doesn’t exist.
The cohort study in question, observed thousands of people (ages 50-76) to determine if there was a link between taking vitamin B6/B12 and lung cancer. What they “discovered,” is that men with lung cancer who had supplemented with B6 and B12 supplements, or who smoked and took vitamin B, were more likely to have lung cancer.
I know what you’re thinking: Doesn’t smoking increase one’s risk of lung cancer, period? Were they taking synthetic B’s? Did they have their genetics tested? Were there other cancer risk factors? Aren’t you more likely to get cancer if you’re old, period? Where they taking folic acid too? Did their diets consist of t.v. dinners, hot dogs, Little Debbies, and off-brand soda? How well were they methylating? (Okay, maybe that’s just how I think.)
Unfortunately, the message that all things funded by pharma ultimately ran with was that “vitamin B causes lung cancer” … except that it doesn’t.
[Insert crickets chirping here.]
Let’s break everything down …
Cohort studies don’t prove that anything causes anything. Cohorts observe large groups of people over time in order to analyze lifestyle factors that may cause disease. They look for correlations, and correlations don’t equal causation.
In plain english, just because more people supplementing with B12 and B6 had lung cancer, doesn’t mean vitamin B caused their cancer. These same people could have consumed a high sugar diet, binged on twinkies, worn the same type of shoe, or had the genetics of an aardvark hit by a car. We simply don’t know.
The data derived from a cohort study is only legit if the people conducting it aren’t taking giant leaps between what they observe and the conclusions they come to, and the study isn’t funded by the companies who profit from the results.
This Cohort used synthetic B vitamins … which cause lung cancer.
Here’s another problem: the men in this study were taking synthetic vitamin B. To the current scientific community, vitamin B is vitamin B … but to those of us who know anything about natural anything – source, type, and quality matter. Synthetic vitamin B is manufactured in a lab and although it may have the same chemical properties as vitamin B derived from food, it doesn’t have the same optical activity and it’s not synthesized by the body the same way.
Look how long they’ve been telling people to take toxic folic acid (vitamin B9) thinking it had the same effects on the body as methylfolate (also vitamin B9).
Coal-tar is a foundational ingredient used to manufacture synthetic B vitamins, (it’s also contained in cigarettes). Coal tar is a known human carcinogen with over 10,000 chemicals (many of which are unknown). And guess what, it causes LUNG CANCER.
Food-source vitamin B that has been naturally cultured or fermented from food is a completely different breed of B. You may have to take more of it (because it’s not as concentrated) but it’s easily recognizable and assimilated. You also have different types of B vitamins, like methyl B’s and hydroxo B’s.
These guys were on a synthetic supplement (Centrum Silver) derived from a fossil fuel that causes lung cancer and were also smoking fossil fuels. Clearly, their cancer wasn’t caused by consuming supplements derived from carcinogens though, it was caused by those other “b vitamins.”
Then you’ve got the B9/folic acid drama. Many of the participants in this cohort were taking folic acid. Folic acid is a synthetic version of folate that disrupts the body’s methylation cycle … which is important to preventing cancer. The study actually mentions the methylation cycle (and MTHFR gene); but they get a few things wrong. In one part of the study, they actually say:
[…] Excess supplement of folic acid and vitamin B12 was found to be associated with changes in DNA methylation of several genes that could be reactivated or deregulated during carcinogenesis.
Okay, great … but then they say that folic acid isn’t the reason these guys got cancer because we’ve been fortifying foods with folic acid since 1997, which makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. (We’ll ignore the fact that they use the terms “folic acid” and “folate” interchangeably.)
We found no association between folate intake and lung cancer […]. This could be due to the widespread fortification of foods with folic acid starting in 1997 in the United States […].
So, it’s not the Centrum Silver (made by Pfizer, who funds the organizations who publish studies like these), fortified foods that disrupt methylation, or smoking fossil fuels … it’s those “b-vitamins” that aren’t regulated that did it.
I hate to point out the obvious here, but synthetic folic acid is not equivalent to legit folate. People consume way too much folic acid between supplements and fortified foods, which disrupts the methylation cycle. Methylation affects one’s cancer risk (as this study actually points out).
But think about it, if food fortification were linked to cancer … the FDA would be in HUGE trouble. (Think … tobacco litigation.)
Finally, some articles (like The Atlantic) used this cohort to point out the dangers of taking water-soluble B vitamins (the excess of which are peed out) because B vitamins are dangerous and should be treated (regulated) like pharmaceuticals (that people are constantly mis-using) and prescribed by those who have little to no training in nutrition.
Here’s what the vitamin B hate is really about:
It’s all very simple, it’s easier to blame the natural supplement that has almost no side-effects when used properly than to look to the real causes of cancer … made by organizations that fund the industry profiting off of “studies” just like these.
According to the National Institute of Health, vitamin B has not been proven harmful and this cohort doesn’t change that. If anything can be gained from this, it’s that you shouldn’t take a junk vitamin, shouldn’t smoke, should avoid consuming coal-tar, and should run from synthetic vitamins and fortified foods like the plague.
I’m going to go take my vitamin B supplement now.